Trans-Canada at Sask.-Alberta border still shut
Gaping hole in the highway
About five kilometres of the highway were flooded because of heavy rain earlier in the week. Detours were set up Friday and remain in place.
Drivers making their way west to Alberta are being redirected to Highway 7.
Other roads in the area were also affected by flooding, including Highway 271 between Maple Creek and Fort Walsh, Sask.
The town of Maple Creek was hardest hit by the rising waters and a local emergency was declared at 10:17 a.m. CST on Friday.
"We're in clean-up mode," Barry Rudd, the town's mayor, said Saturday. "Some of the streets are still covered with water, partial streets."
Rudd said the community was given two warnings about rising waters, the first at 2:30 a.m. CST on Friday.
As the water entered town, Rudd said, it passed through a railway yard and moved heavy rail ties through the streets "like toothpicks".
There were no injuries from the flooding and no one was reported missing.
"You don't see destruction," he said, but noted that many homes suffered basement flooding. He did not have an estimate on how many properties were affected.
As a precaution, regional health officials evacuated the local hospital. Four patients were discharged to return to their homes. Another four were transferred to the hospital in Swift Current.
Officials said the hospital was not affected by the flooding and remained open, adding that patients who were moved out might return as early as Saturday.
Highway under water
Officials from the Saskatchewan Highways and Infrastructure Ministry said Saturday that crews have not yet had a chance to inspect the extent of damage to the flooded portions of the Trans-Canada Highway.
The affected area includes three kilometres of the Saskatchewan road and two kilometres of the Alberta section.
Another section, about 75 metres, was damaged in Saskatchewan where a culvert failed. Officials said that produced a dramatic hole in the road.
"When you have extremely high inflows of water... it will start to erode the dirt," Doug Wakabayashi, the director of communications for the Highways Ministry, explained. "Then, the highway just collapses."
Wakabayashi acknowledged that there are a number of alternate routes through Saskatchewan, but said some roads were not designed to handle high volumes of traffic.
"We are advising against that," he said of people finding their own ways to Alberta.
Worst has passed
An official from the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority said Saturday that the flood from Maple Creek was the worst ever on its record books.
But Doug Johnson, the director of basin operations for the authority, said Maple Creek had peaked Friday night and the waters should recede over the next few days.
Other water systems in the area were also affected by the heavy rains, but none was expected to cause substantial flooding.
Travellers were 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/.