“Rare” flooding in northwest Saskatchewan has community members concerned they could be cut off from food and other essentials for weeks.
A high flow is making its way down the Beaver River, hitting the Beauval area.
Highway 165 is still open in the area, according to the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, which says it’s keeping an eye on the situation.
“Our road is underwater and breaking up,” said Candyce Paul, incident commander with English River First Nation’s emergency management team.
The last time flooding was this bad in the area was in 1974. Though the road isn’t closed yet, many, including Paul, fear it could.
“This is something we’ve been asking government” ‘Are you going to keep this road open? Do you have a plan B’?” she said.
“By the sounds of it, plan B is we’re cut off for three weeks, likely.”
She said that’s a huge concern, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic where there are “minimal” services in Saskatchewan’s north.
Five communities rely on the road to get essentials, Paul said.
“We don’t even have a store here or at La Plonge where we can get essentials,” she said.
“We can’t get gas here. Our medical services and our mail, all on the other side. The pharmacy’s on the other side.”
Water levels are still rising, according to the province’s Water Safety Agency, and it could be a few days before it hits its peak.
“After the peak hits … it’s a gradual decrease,” said Patrick Boyle with Water Safety Agency.
“You’ll have high water levels there for probably the next week to 10 days for sure and then they gradually start to go down.”
Boyle said the flooding was caused by heavy rain in Alberta and northwest Saskatchewan.
Paul said her community might leave a truck on the other side of the water and escort people who need to travel through the water to get there.
The ministry of highways and infrastructure says it’s monitoring the water levels, has set up barriers, and has put an 8,000-kilogram weight limit in place.
For the communities on the other side, it’s a waiting game for if, or when, they’ll be cut off.