GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN
Water from Whitewater Lake near Deloraine laps on a farm field close to a diked house Friday afternoon.
MELITA — This portion of the province, already battling the tempers of the Souris River, fights continued flooding on three fronts.
A pair of scrap trucks sit in the deep waters of the Souris River in Melita Friday. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Doug Calverley (right), owner of Dougs Mobile Service in Melita, along with friend Doug Jones watch a truck unload dirt for a dike along his business’ riverfront property Friday. (GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN)
Waters encroach on the construction of Hartney’s new bridge Friday. The structure is scheduled to be completed next year. (GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN)
A woman looks on at the rising waters at Plumb Creek, which feeds into the Souris River, in Souris' Victoria Park Friday morning. (GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN)
Water flows on Friday over debris from a bridge on Highway 445 in Melita that was washed out in this week’s flooding. (GRAEME BRUCE/BRANDON SUN)
Melita is bracing for floodwaters anticipated to flow from Saskatchewan, from North Dakota, and overflowing tributaries from Turtle Mountain.
In an area south of Melita, the Souris River is flowing in the opposite direction as a result of the sheer power from the several creeks that normally calmly feed it.
When the river will peak is anyone’s guess.
"I don’t think anybody really knows what’s going to happen," said RM of Arthur Reeve Jim Trewin after spending Friday afternoon on the phone with neighbouring municipalities and the province.
Parts of Melita are lined with sandbags, but the unassuming brunt of destruction lies in the grid roads and fields within the oil-rich municipality.
There are some 60 road washouts in the RM and some bridges have been pummelled by ferocious white-capped water, leaving about 50 people in the western part of the area almost cut off from the rest of the RM.
At least four families have been forced out of homes and several business — including the area’s school division bus shop — have up and moved away from water’s path.
Like its neighbours to the west, the municipality’s main concern lies in emergency vehicles making their way through an infrastructure grid riddled with closed roads and impassible washouts.
Expansive farm fields were transformed into deep lakes overnight Friday and those huge bodies of water are a sign of things to come.
"It’s minute by minute," Trewin said.
The cost of the destruction isn’t an easy target. Many roads and bridges are so deep under water, officials won’t even be able to assess any damage until all the water calms down and gets to its final destination.
About 90 per cent of the crops on the east side of the Souris River were seeded. But in a stark contrast, that number is in the basement at 10 per cent on the west side. Trewin said there are as many acres under water now as there were not seeded last week before last weekend’s storm hit. "Anyone who did get their crop in, it’s laying under water," Trewin said. But one’s thing’s for sure: This flood’s destruction trumps what 2011 brought already and Trewin has already had a phone call with Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.
"If they thought they spent a lot of money in 2011, it’s going to be a lot worse this time."
Doug Calverley, owner of Doug’s Mobile Service centre in Melita, spent late Friday afternoon watching load after load of dirt pouring onto his riverfront property to build a dike around his business.
He said he didn’t personally push for it, however the province pulled the trigger on the project. He said he’s not yet sure on whose desk the bills for the project will land.
The shop itself was flooded in 2011 and Calverley, who cut short a vacation on Tuesday to return home, anticipates the river swelling to get worse.
"This is a permanent solution," he said. "We’ve always had water close to us."
Further east just outside Deloraine, anxiety isn’t nearly as high, but Whitewater Lake which has already gobbled up thousands of acres of farmland, threatens the town — it’ll only take a little westerly wind.
The lake, which has expanded its shores by some eight kilometres in the last nine years, eventually feeds the Souris. "Never in my life would I have thought it would threaten Deloraine," said RM of Winchester Reeve Gord Weidenhamer, "but now … it can. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t, but nobody wants to take that chance."
The drainage of the lake has been a political sore spot for decades dividing those on either end and this summer’s problem will only fan those flames.
Easterly, Hartney’s flood woes have also receded for the moment, but a large wall of water near the construction of its bridge could destroy the project’s timeline.
Dirt from the build was built up as a dike so work could continue.
Meanwhile, in the town of Souris, all is calm. The town declared a state of emergency on Thursday, but no homes or business are threatened. Victoria Park is under water, but the campground remains open.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 5, 2014