The Town of Arborfield issued a mandatory evacuation order for all residents on Tuesday.
The order came after an approximately 27-metre wide rupture in a holdback road about 13 kilometres south of the town. The province issued an alert just after 4 p.m. saying flood waters were expected to encroach into the town within hours, with the potential to create dangerous situations and extreme flooding.
About 400 people living in the town were asked to get themselves out if possible. People needing help were directed to contact the town office. Evacuees were also asked to register at the Blue Bird Hotel in Melfort, which will enable them to get emergency assistance from the province.
The province said information can be found online on the province’s emergency alerts webpage.
Heavy rains cause communities to declare states of emergency
The Town of Arborfield had declared a state of emergency Monday night after heavy rainfall pelted most of the province. They were joined by Carrot River, which also declared a state of emergency Monday night.
“Residents are notified that they need to limit their usage of the sanitary sewer system until further notification and that the storm sewer system is still at or near capacity,” a post on the Carrot River’s Facebook page reads.
“Protection or clean up of your property is tantamount at this time.”
The post said the town has volunteers and employees actively pumping water into the storm ditch.
“Should you have access to a sump pump from your basement, you must pump the sewage onto the street so that it becomes a part of the storm system. We have been given permission to do this from the ministry of the environment,” it read.
An update at 11:40 p.m. Monday said the town was confident residents could use limited sanitary sewers at this time.
“Please limit to personal cleaning (showers and baths) and use of toilets and sinks. No dishwashers or laundry at this time please.”
According to the page, at least two sinkholes have opened in the town due to flooding.
‘Couldn’t see the road’
Tammy Holinaty lives about 10 minutes south of Arborfield, where her daughter resides.
“I’ve never seen that much water,” she said. “We went there yesterday to help her, and we ended up helping everyone else.”
In a video Holinaty posted to Facebook Monday, residents were seen wading knee-deep along the road, while homes were surrounded by water.
“When we were walking through it, the current could just pull you down. It was just flowing so fast and it just came up so fast,” she said. “You couldn’t see the road, you couldn’t see the ditches.”
At five feet four inches tall, Holinaty said she was walking through water that came up to her knees and waist.
While visiting with neighbours, she witnessed a foot of water flood the basement within a matter of 15 minutes.
“I have never seen a community band together like that. It was devastating, but also really heartwarming,” she said.
The hardest hit areas were south of the railway tracks, and east of the town.
Thirty-six residents from the local care home were evacuated late Monday night when rising water cut off all but one access road to the village.
“There was a threat that if the crest did come over the berm, and cover that highway, there would be no access in or out of the community. So town administrator, along with the provincial EMO, declared a state of emergency,” said Renee Simoneau, the Kelsey Trail Health Region’s emergency preparedness officer.
Residents were moved to Nipawin, Tisdale and Melfort hospitals, while the rest were sent to stay with families.
“We’re at full capacity at those three hospitals. Every bed that we have in place is being used,” Simoneau said.
She said they have no idea when it will be safe to bring residents back.
As of early Tuesday, Holinaty said her family reported there’s still plenty of water in the town, but it has subsided from the levels seen the night before.
— Lacy Sletten (@LacySletten) July 11, 2016
My hometown of Carrot River, SK today. Can you believe it… Gas is 99.9 ! Oh yeah , it flooded too! pic.twitter.com/8rrf2oSVXb
— Bill Gowen (@billgowen) July 12, 2016