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Tuesday, 12 April 2011 09:59

City prepares for possible flood scenario

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By John R. Statton – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Swift Current
The City of Swift Current has activated its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) in anticipation of a possible flooding threat.

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“Right now it’s a situation where the EOC has been activated, so we are planning all necessary precautions,” said Mayor Jerrod Schafer.

“Of course all partners – the province, Saskatchewan Watershed Authority (SWA), and emergency services – everybody is working together to make sure that we are overly prepared should flows increase.”

Flows from the Swift Current Creek had peaked at 2,541 cubic feet per second (cfs) at 8 a.m. April 11, but fell to 2,300 within three hours.

Despite the increased flows Schafer doesn’t see extensive flooding within the city.

“At this stage from what we’re looking at it appears as no,” he said.

“Right now the two largest variables that could affect flooding would be the release of water from Duncairn Dam, and the amount of runoff that accumulates in the creek between the dam and the city.”

He noted that flow releases from the dam have remained consistent, and the City will continue to prepare susceptible areas in the event of flooding.

The City of Swift Current has met with its emergency response team for the past 10 weeks to prepare for possible flood scenarios.

“Our flood planning team has developed action plans, and acquired a whole lot of information,” said Susan Motkaluk, City chief administrative officer.

“From that exercise we have determined that an EOC is appropriate at this time, and in part it’s due to the information coming to us from the SWA with elevated level in the creek, and with the warmer weather we’re seeing increases from the dam.”

The EOC consists of City crews, administration, and emergency services.

“We’re at this point where we have triggered the EOC as a planning exercise: a planning and deploying of resources and equipment,” said Motkaluk.

“At this point everything is in a well staged and organized effort.”

The EOC is comprised of key City, and other agency individuals who direct and control the response to an emergency event.

“We have a co-ordinated effort underway,” she said.

“We are expecting the creek to rise and our efforts right now are to minimize risk, and to try and reduce that risk.”

The City and RCMP remind residents to stay clear of the creek, and take necessary precautions to prepare their homes.

Police closed Piper’s Bridge on the city’s south side due to elevated flows April 11.

Last week flows from Duncairn were up to 1,000 cfs, but dropped gradually over that cycle.

Flows were again increased from 500 cfs to 1,000 cfs this week to accommodate the high water level at the dam.

Additional flows join the creek between the city and the dam, and the City’s director of engineering noted that the additional approximate 1,500 cfs was still relatively normal.

“If we get some higher inflows between here and the dam, and if the Duncairn people get too much inflow themselves they might open up the damn to 2,000 cfs,” said Mac Forster.

“We could start seeing flows in that 4,000 cfs and up range; in 1997 when we had the flooding flows were around 5,600 cfs, but those were compounded by ice.”

The Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections, Public Safety, and Policing has stepped in to provide the City with the necessary equipment to provide effective flood protection.

The City stressed that all measures were purely precautionary at this point, but necessary preparations have been made.

“We’ll probably see flows go up over the next few days, but the temperatures are supposed to back down again,” said Forster.

“Everything we’re doing right now is precautionary: we don’t know if it’s going to flood to the extent of 1997 or not, but we are preparing as if it would.”

The City has deployed aqua dams, portable flood dykes, and sandbags.

As of April 12 the SWA announced that they have increased the flows from Duncairn Dam to 2,000 cfs.

The City is anticipating the creek's inflow to increase to 4,000 cfs by April 13.


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