July 5, 2015


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Helping just a Souris thing

Neighbours rally to build dikes

SOURIS -- Don Kowalchuk hopes to get by with a little help from his friends.

As the swollen Souris River rushes past within metres of his home, Kowalchuk and his wife, Joyce, work the phone, calling friends and neighbours to help them reinforce the sandbag dike around their home.

Don Kowalchuk surveys the swollen Souris River from his home on the banks of the river in Souris on Friday afternoon.

TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN

Don Kowalchuk surveys the swollen Souris River from his home on the banks of the river in Souris on Friday afternoon.

"It's getting close," Kowalchuk said of the Souris River Friday.

"It's still going up and they're still talking about a second crest... we don't know when."

Higher flows from the Saskatchewan portion of Pipestone Creek are expected to push the water level up by 0.7 feet and a flood watch has been issued for the town.

But it appears the water has done nothing to dampen community spirit, as hundreds of volunteers -- Souris residents bolstered by some volunteers from other communities -- worked together this week to save their neighbours' homes.

It remains to be seen if their efforts will be enough.

The Kowalchuks started sandbagging on Tuesday but the river has kept rising -- Kowalchuk estimates by more than an inch in about five hours Friday -- and the water is lapping at the sandbags that line the bottom of their dike.

Describing himself as "pretty nervous," Don said he wants to raise the dike between his house and the river to five feet from three.

So, on Good Friday, they called in the reinforcements.

And in Souris, people have been willing to help. Norm Swain was one of the hundreds of volunteers to answer the call in recent days.

Even though his home wasn't in jeopardy, he offered his time to build dikes to protect homes near the river.

He's been sandbagging since Tuesday, each day after work until his arms were so sore he couldn't straighten them. Swain said he was happy to see so many people pull together to help neighbours, but he wasn't surprised.

"It's just a Souris thing, it's what you do."

 

-- Brandon Sun

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

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