Floods delay Sask. premier's trip to conference

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall delayed his arrival at the Western Premiers' conference to tour flooded southeast areas of the province.
The town of Yellow Grass was hit with a flash flood on Friday night. ((CBC))
Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall delayed his departure for the Western Premiers' conference to tour flooded southeast areas of the province.

On Monday, Wall will tour flooded areas in Estevan, Radville, Weyburn and Yellow Grass.

Up to 75 mm of rain caused significant swelling of the Souris River and flash floods across the area.

On Saturday, firefighters had to use a boat to rescue about 30 people from a mobile home park on the outskirts of Weyburn. The water was over a metre deep and up to the floors of many of the trailers.

Unprecedented volumes of water were being released from behind the Boundary and Rafferty dams causing flooding along the Souris in downstream communities. Evacuation orders have been issued, and 400 people in a trailer park on the outskirts of Estevan are still under an evacuation alert.

In the village of Roche Percee a voluntary evacuation order was issued Saturday but RCMP cleared out stragglers on Sunday as the situation grew more serious. Roche Percee Mayor Reg Jahn said at least 60 homes in the village were likely to be flooded as water continued to breach dikes in the community of 200 people.

"Anybody that isn't scared is a fool. I think pretty much everybody in the flood area is gone," he said. 

Jahn said it was the worst flooding in Roch Percee since the community was established in 1860.

A state of emergency also continued in Weyburn where the city's sewer system could not handle Friday's flash flood.

"We haven't seen an emergency like this in our community like this in many years," said Weyburn Mayor Deb Button.

"This is a strain on our systems, a strain on our people, and I just want to say I'm so proud of how everyone in this city is pulling together."

Those displaced by flooding were staying at the local hockey rink.

Rains also forced a Saskatoon school to postpone final exams after the basement of E.D. Feehan High School flooded on Friday night.

The storm raised levels on reservoirs along the Souris River, forcing provincial officials to release water from the Rafferty dam to ease the pressure, raising the flood threat for those living downstream.

Wall said the federal government could do more to help provinces when they have to purposely release water from dikes or dams - as happened this weekend.

He said although such releases are technically man made they are precipitated by natural events.

"There's a pretty strong case here to be made to the federal government that obviously there would be no breaching of any dikes, there would be no releases from dams — either in the southeast or on Lake Diefenbaker were it not for this unprecedented flooding," Wall said, adding he will talk to Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger about making that case jointly to Ottawa.

Wall will join the other western Premiers at the conference in Yellowknife on Tuesday.

Northwest Territories Premier Floyd Roland will host the annual conference, which runs Monday to Wednesday. Among the other premiers attending the talks will be Manitoba's Greg Selinger, Alberta's Ed Stelmach, Nunavut's Eva Aariak, B.C.'s Christy Clark and Yukon's Darrell Pasloski.

Federal compensation for disasters such as floods and forest fires is on the agenda.