TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Buildings on Sioux Valley Dakota Nation are surrounded by water on Monday after flooding due to heavy rainfall last weekend.
Floodwaters have closed a section of Highway 21 near Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, forcing residents to start sandbagging to protect homes.
A two-kilometre stretch of the highway leaving Sioux Valley is now under water, according to the community’s flood co-ordinator, Nathan Hall, who recommends those entering and leaving the community go through Rivers.
"You can just hear the water flowing over the road now, it’s pretty loud," Sioux Valley Chief Vince Tacan said Thursday while en route to a meeting in Winnipeg with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada.
"Water has gone up a little more, so it’s similar to 2011 levels."
By yesterday afternoon, community members and volunteers were busy filling sandbags to protect low-lying homes. Tacan said the water was moving in from the west down the Assiniboine River.
Tacan said with a section of Highway 21 closed, it now takes nearly an hour to get to Brandon, the closest major centre besides Virden.
"Time is critical, especially if there’s an emergency, so we’re concerned about the health and safety of our members," he said.
"I’ve always said we need to do something with (Highway 21) — either widen that bridge or raise it up or do something because that road doesn’t just serve Sioux Valley."
Tacan said out of the 330 homes on the reserve, 45 are either damaged or flooded after last weekend’s storm, which dumped nearly 100 millimetres of rain on the community in roughly 24 hours.
"It was a double whammy with the water and the wind," Tacan said, adding they are still waiting to receive a final damage assessment.
On Sunday, the community was forced to close its health centre due to water damage, but health services have temporarily been set up inside the wellness centre.
About 40 evacuees on the north side of the community returned home yesterday after their hydro was turned back on, leaving roughly 100 evacuees still staying in Brandon.
Tacan said they’ve also started to evacuate a few residents with medical issues to Brandon as a precautionary measure.
"Other than that, we’re taking a wait-and-see approach … we hope the water doesn’t hang around too long as it did in 2011."
By Thursday evening, Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation reported that 72 sections of provincial roads have been affected by heavy rainfall and some roads are either closed or marked with caution.
A helicopter from Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship is on standby in Brandon for rescues as needed. Since the helicopter arrived Tuesday afternoon, it has not been flown on any rescue missions.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 4, 2014