Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Reston residents hit hard by flood

Rush to save homes following rainstorm

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Dorothy Jago looks over photos spanning eight decades recovered from her flooded Reston basement.

GRAEME BRUCE / BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Dorothy Jago looks over photos spanning eight decades recovered from her flooded Reston basement.

RESTON -- Flood waters in the small community of Reston continue to recede after a short and devastating rainstorm that left many residents in the RM of Pipestone scrambling to save their homes.

A late Friday-night rainstorm walloped the Westman region, dumping as much as 200 millimetres of rain in just a few hours in the area, with Reston, about 110 kilometres west of Brandon, receiving the brunt of Mother Nature's havoc.

The RM of Pipestone -- which includes the communities of Reston, Cromer, Sinclair and Pipestone -- is still under a state of emergency, with several roads closed and at least four Reston homes under evacuation recommendations.

On Saturday morning, Reston's 600 residents looked at their homes and vehicles -- some of which were sitting in more than a metre of rainwater and sewage -- in disbelief. Many say it was the worst flood they've seen in recent memory.

Partially submerged cars were pulled out of deep water, houses became islands and community members hastily filled some of the 2,000 sandbags used on homes in anticipation of more rain.

Reston received between 25 and 50 millimetres of rain again on Sunday when most of western Manitoba was under a rainfall warning.

Cromer, which lies in a valley, received more than 75 mm of rain, and flooding remains a concern there and in the rest of the RM of Pipestone.

Reston's drainage system, which had been upgraded after flooding in 2010, was simply no match for the incredible amount of rain in such a short burst, said Pipestone Reeve Ross Tycoles.

Overland flooding from a nearby creek that winds its way through the community also led to sewage backup.

"That much water in a short period of time... is going to create excess water," Tycoles said Saturday. "This is way too much water."

A nearby railway that splits Reston acts as a dike, and crews are worried about erosion that could lead to water bursting into drier parts of the town. The dike was still holding as of Sunday afternoon, though, and was being monitored.

Tycoles said the Canadian Pacific Railway was notified about the possibility of a railway collapse, but said only a few trains come through per week.

Soggy couches, soaking carpet ripped from floors and broken appliances dotted streets on Sunday, and hoses snaked through the community, pumping water to its outskirts around the clock.

"We're fortunate to have major equipment through the oil industry to pump water and move water," Tycoles said. "So we've got a ton of equipment."

Many residents said the flood of 2010 was still fresh in their memory, while others still haven't finished fixing up houses that were pummelled by softball-sized hail that fell on Canada Day in 2011.

Richard and Judy Lochhead stood at the end of their block, feeling powerless -- a familiar feeling.

The couple said home insurance won't cover much of the damage, remembering their experience from three years ago.

"If they say it's sewer backup, you get some, but for overland flooding you get nothing," Richard said. "And (in 2010) we got disaster assistance from the province," which he added was very little.

Their fully finished basement, which has been redone multiple times, saw some of the worst of Reston's flooding, with well over a metre of rainwater and sewage.

The couple was able to save one of their vehicles, but the other remained partially submerged in the garage.

Despite the disaster, many people tried to keep a positive outlook. Dorothy Jago's basement was filled with about a metre of water from the backed-up sewage line.

Standing in her front porch filled with furniture, books and boxes retrieved from her watery basement, she said she was thankful for the help of her family, as they ran up and down the stairs, salvaging whatever they could.

"It's just one of those things you hope never happens to you, but it does," she said, adding the only thing she was worried about were her family photos, of which she had several hundred scattered on her living-room floor on Sunday to dry.

Her son, Glen Jago, was hesitant to put a dollar figure on the damage to his mother's home, but said it could easily surpass $20,000, adding up the costs of the carpet, drywall, insulation, furniture and appliances.

Tycoles said Sunday he is confident crews had the flooding under control, but said the town isn't out of the woods yet. Flooding from Reston's golf course, on the west side of the community, was inching its way to neighbouring backyards.

"We're still a little worried," Tycoles said Sunday afternoon. "It's creeping up on those houses, and that's where the issue will be."

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 24, 2013 A4

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