Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Saskatchewan shares the pain

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MELVILLE, Sask. -- For more than two weeks, Shirley Karius managed to keep the rising waters from flooding her home on Crooked Lake with a sandbag wall and seven pumps.

But her luck finally ran out late Friday night when a spring snowstorm whipped up winds and sent waves of up to three-quarters of a metre high crashing over the tops of the sandbags and into her basement.

"Last night my son was going to come out from Melville to give me a hand, but the roads were impassable. So he's sitting half an hour away and can't do anything," the 69-year-old widow said Saturday.

"My daughter had to go away also, so she phoned and said, 'What a night to leave you alone."'

Fortunately, Karius said her neighbours rushed to her aid and helped save what they could from her basement.

Crooked Lake is part of the Qu'Appelle Lakes chain and many people have been afraid for weeks that high winds would push ice on the lakes into their homes.

Fortunately, Karius says the ice disappeared on Crooked Lake a few days ago so it's only high waves she has to contend with.

Ron Cox, mayor of the resort village of B-Say-Tah on Echo Lake, said the ice only recently melted there, too. While he says it's a blessing people aren't faced with the pounding ice, the waves driven by winds reaching up to 90 km/h have been no picnic and have overwhelmed a number of dikes.

"There's one or two cottages around here where people have been fighting the good fight for a couple of weeks. Their dikes were breached last night and they had to give up," said Cox, who was busy Saturday helping people with the storm damage.

"The wave action was coming over the tops of the dikes and eventually washing the dikes away, too. And once they were breached there was no way of gaining control of the floodwater."

RCMP in Saskatchewan recommend avoiding highway travel in eastern Saskatchewan due to extremely poor visibility.

The wind snapped power poles and felled trees onto utility lines, leaving thousands of people in areas like Weyburn, Estevan and Radtcliffe without electricity while the storm raged outside.

SaskPower spokesman James Parker said many people likely won't get their power back until sometime today.

"The heavy snow and winds have made roads impassable in several areas," Parker explained.

"We've got crews who just can't get out on the roads."

The storm was moving into Manitoba on Saturday, where it is expected to raise water levels on river levels that are already high.

The province is warning that high winds and the breakup of ice on major lakes like the Lake Winnipeg, Lake Manitoba, the Shoal Lakes and Lake Winnipegosis is expected to cause an ice pileup on the shorelines.

 

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 1, 2011 A3

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