Flood of 2010 will be costly

Authorities in Saskatchewan are beginning to add up the costs associated with flooding in the southwest.

Authorities in Saskatchewan are beginning to add up the costs associated with flooding in the southwest.

People in Maple Creek attended a public meeting Tuesday night to learn about a provincial disaster assistance program.

The program provides up to $160,000 to help those with uninsurable losses.

On Wednesday, Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall said he wants officials to be flexible.

"These are uninsurable damages that have occurred. They couldn't have insured for them and so the government needs to be there, and we will be," Wall said.

He added the province will get as many insurance adjusters as needed out to Maple Creek to assess the damage.

"I think we'll be taking their counsel, as well as officials' advice, on what flexibility might be appropriate," Wall said.

Fourteen adjusters from Saskatchewan Government Insurance are in Maple Creek to assess claims.

According to the province, officials have already received 190 claims, including 180 for property damage and 10 relating to vehicle losses.

Most of the property damage claims relate to sewers backing up in basements.

The province was hoping to have most of the claims processed and paid by Sunday.

Crop insurance estimate triples

Elsewhere in Saskatchewan, the overabundance of rain will have an impact on the government's crop insurance program.

The agriculture minister said Wednesday that Saskatchewan's share of crop insurance may be triple what was forecast for 2010.

Bob Bjornerud said the province could pay out around $300 million this year.

He believes even more compensation is necessary to help farmers.

But he said he's unsure whether additional assistance should be made to farmers who bought crop insurance only, or be open to anyone.

"You know there's an argument to be made on both sides," Bjornerud said. "Those who pay the premiums have some concern about [others] coming along and not having insurance and [receiving a payout]. That's a fair argument. But then if you look at the other side and have nothing out there, we don't want to lose too many farmers … So it's a tough one."

Bjornerud said about 70 per cent of Saskatchewan farmers bought some crop insurance this year.

Water levels high

Meanwhile, officials from the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority said Wednesday that no more flooding is expected in Maple Creek and that flood waters are receding.

Elsewhere, the authority said water levels are high but no river systems or lakes are expected to overflow.

Here are some other notes from the authority:

  • The South Saskatchewan River is expected to rise in Saskatoon by 15 centimetres due to a release of water through the Gardiner Dam Wednesday.
  • The South Saskatchewan peaked at the Alberta-Saskatchewan border over the weekend and the peak flow has moved downstream towards Lake Diefenbaker. Although Lake Diefenbaker will continue to rise, it will be maintained below the lake's maximum level.
  • The water moving into Lake Diefenbaker is carrying floating debris. Lake users, especially boaters, are advised to be careful.
  • Good Spirit Lake is believed to be close to its flood peak.
  • Fishing Lake is not expected to peak until at least next week. It is expected it will reach a level that is about 10 centimetres below the 2007 peak level, the recorded maximum for the lake. The authority said much depends on how much rain falls over the next several weeks.
  • The greatest concern for both lakes is the impact of wave action.
  • Last Mountain Lake continues to rise slowly. The Craven Dam, which regulates lake levels, is wide open. Water levels have not yet peaked, and the rate of rise is relatively slow, the authority said.

Roads closed

As of Wednesday morning, the province said the Trans-Canada Highway remained closed around the Alberta-Saskatchewan boundary.

Another route in the area, Highway 271 from Maple Creek to Fort Walsh, was also closed because of damage to a bridge.

Travellers are being advised to check Saskatchewan's Highways Hotline, at 1-888-335-7623, or the Highways Ministry's online information at http://www.highways.gov.sk.ca/road-conditions/.