Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Rain pounds town again

Reston reeling from another deluge

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Tim Smith / Brandon Sun

The straw bales appear to be working to hold back overland flooding.

RESTON -- At least two homes could be total losses, a health-care centre has been evacuated, and dozens are displaced in Reston, the community devastated by yet another ferocious rainstorm.

The area in the southwest corner of Manitoba received 104 millimetres of rain on Tuesday evening, just four days after the community in the RM of Pipestone saw a flash flood ravage buildings and roads on the weekend.

Now it's back to Square 1.

Flood-soaked carpeting, appliances and couches that fell victim to the first flood floated down the streets.

Tuesday night's storm in the RM -- which was already in a declared state of emergency -- brought even more destruction than the first. Trees were struck by lightning, heavy winds knocked out power, and even more homes and roads were in the path of overland flooding.

Reeve Ross Tycoles said the weather was so severe, crews were seeking shelter in basements during the storm.

Portions of Highway 2 west of Reston succumbed to a two-metre wall of water, as did other secondary roads, increasing the RM's resolve to divert traffic away from the area. At least one vehicle on Highway 83 was swept off the road by vicious tides crossing the road.

Reston Health Centre has evacuated its 28 residents to various health facilities throughout Prairie Mountain health region for precautionary and staffing reasons, since employees cannot get to work.

Within the RM of Pipestone, around 75 homes have been affected, many of which were farm homes with water lapping right up to the siding.

As the RM tries to keep its head above water, Tycoles said he expects to have contact with Premier Greg Selinger about relief funding after the two first spoke at the beginning of the week.

"The community is strong, I still see a lot of humour, people taking it as it is," Tycoles said, but added the community's sunny mood could quickly turn when talks with the Emergency Measures Organization starts.

"It could have been a lot worse. That storm had some bad feeling in it."

Despite the unrelenting downpours, Reston School's Grade 12 class still celebrated graduation last night at the school, with a party in the neighbouring community of Pipestone.

Wednesday morning, on his way back from Pipestone, graduate Garrett Adock had to leave behind his car on the highway and walk 20 minutes back into town.

"We couldn't open our doors," he said. "(The water) was waist deep. We had to climb out our windows."

Reston School has cancelled the year's remaining school days.

As the last of the water was gurgling down his mother-in-law's basement drain on Wednesday morning after the latest bout of rain, Brian Barker said the pressure from the saturated land around the house created leaks in the foundation.

"There was water shooting out of the cinder blocks," he said. "It was literally coming out of the walls."

While the EMO won't pay for sewage backup, it will cover overland flooding, but Barker argues Reston's situation is in a grey area.

"My big issue is the sewer wouldn't back up if there wasn't overland flooding," he said.

Tuesday night's catastrophic storm hit other Westman communities, including Virden, where the town is still adding up the damage after it was caught off guard by more than 55 millimetres of rain, leaving as much as a metre of water, creating a lake over dozens of metres, according to Mayor Jeff McConnell.

Overland floods were coupled with a one-metre rise in the Scallion Creek during the height of the storm.

"The creek was already flowing at near capacity," he said, and the town's lift stations "were nowhere near going to match the event we had."

As of Wednesday morning, much of the overland flooding had receded, which left homeowners in at least three areas of the town to clean up destroyed basements.

"The council declared a resolution requesting disaster financial assistance," he said. "It is a disaster, it really is. We have homes affected in pretty much every corner of town."

Towards the Saskatchewan border, the RM of Albert was also in the storm's destructive path, with at least 10 homes "in jeopardy," according to Darwin Gray, the RM's foreman.

Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation's hydrologic forecast centre continued overland flood warnings Wednesday evening and high-water advisories for the northwest, Interlake and southwest regions of Manitoba, including Reston.


-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 27, 2013 A2


Updated on Thursday, June 27, 2013 at 9:43 AM CDT: adds slideshow

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