Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Heart, back surgeries add to the misery for farm couple

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BRANDON -- You can forgive Dave Belhumeur if there are a few things on his mind.

He underwent heart-bypass surgery in Regina three weeks before flood water forced him from his farm, four kilometres west of St. Lazare and next to the rising Qu'Appelle River.

Three months ago, his wife, Bev, had back surgery in Brandon. Both are still on the mend.

So it was left to his son, Kelly, to save the farm from the area's most severe flooding since 1974.

"He had to take a week off to get stuff out of the yard, move cattle," Dave Belhumeur said. "We've never been flooded out before. I'm 64, my grandparents lived there and I can't remember anyone moving out before. They never had to move out. The water got close, but that's it. They were there since the 1930s." This time, water laps up against a sandbag ring dike around the house, topped with a water-filled dike. Water would have to rise another metre before the house would be inundated.

All the flood-prevention measures may save the home, but that doesn't mean the high water won't have a lingering impact. Belhumeur has been working a summer construction job to pay for cattle feed because a forage field was too saturated to get even one cut of hay last year. Those acres are now under water, so he has no idea whether that land will produce anything this year.

"I don't know what's going to happen this year," Belhumeur said. "I just hope it goes down soon enough. I'd rather grow my own feed, but I only had one cut two years ago and couldn't get to it last year. I work and I'm using all of my money to buy feed to keep the farm going. It's not a good situation, with the price of cattle we had."

Those are more than enough pressures to deal with, never mind attempting to do so with a recently repaired heart. But the elder Belhumeur tried to keep his thoughts positive.

"Neither of us can get around well right now, so that's why we wanted to get out while we could," Belhumeur said. "It sure isn't a good time for this."

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 23, 2011 A5

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