Water from the Qu’Appelle River in St. Lazare continues to rise, threatening several homes and buildings including Owen Jessop’s home which was built just last year to replace his old home destroyed by the 2011 flood. (SUBMITTED)
The second crest along the Assiniboine River in St. Lazare also brought some mandatory evacuation notices — which residents largely ignored.
Ten homes in the RM of Ellice and three homes in town received the notices Wednesday. However, residents are reluctant to leave and officials are being lenient.
"We really can’t force people to leave if they are worried about their pumps stopping and basements filling with water," said Rick Fouillard, chief administrative officer for St. Lazare.
Owen Jessop chose not to leave despite the notice. He said the majority of his neighbours stayed because they want to fight for their homes.
"If the river had come up another foot or so, I would have bailed," Jessop said.
The Assiniboine River crested in St. Lazare Wednesday evening at 1,290.78 feet — 8.4 inches higher than the 2011 peak.
High water levels are expected to hold for a couple days, but Fouillard and Jessop said water has already begun to go down.
"This is the first day in 10 or more days the river hasn’t gone up," Jessop said. "It is a very happy day."
St. Lazare’s ring dike is meant to protect up to four feet over the 2011 flood levels. The dike should continue to be adequate protection for the majority of the community.
However, about nine homes outside the dikes have experienced flooding or seepage.
The province announced a team of 35 forest firefighters would be arriving in St. Lazare to assist with the flooding situation.
"We can’t let our guard down yet," Jessop said. "I can hear thunder outside and if there is any big amount of rain from here to Regina, it can affect the flooding."
St. Lazare and surrounding areas were under a severe thunderstorm warning Thursday evening, according to Environment Canada.
Weather will be a major factor in how quickly the Assiniboine River recedes. Until the water level drops significantly, Fouillard is unsure when the mandatory evacuation notice will end.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 11, 2014