It is a day of peak flows on the North Saskatchewan River as the Alberta flood waters rage downstream and into Saskatchewan.
North Battleford is first in line, followed by Prince Albert, and later all the water will make its way to Cumberland House.
To add to an already bad situation, about an inch of rain has fallen in the Prince Albert area. That has resulted in localized flooding in some municipalities and is making it difficult for emergency crews to keep local roads open. The James Smith First Nation is among the areas affected.
Patrick Boyle with the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency says flows along the North Saskatchewan River will be about six times higher than normal:
“It’s at about 3,000 cubic metres per second and that is through North Battleford and Prince Albert. It’s starting to rise and will peak in North Battleford tonight and in Prince Albert tomorrow.”
The City of Prince Albert is preparing for a huge gush of water tonight and tomorrow.
Officials say water flows in the North Saskatchewan River are expected to rise by 4.6 metres above the current level.
City manager Robert Cotterill says they expect the crest to reach them sometime tomorrow.
He says they are placing sandbags along certain manholes to ensure water doesn’t spill out onto the road.
Cotterill says they will also be keeping an eye on the quality of the drinking water:
“We will monitor the turbidity levels. And if we felt that we couldn’t treat the turbidity that’s coming, we’ve got enough in our storage that we could shut down for half a day, and wait for the turbidity levels to drop, and then go back into production.”
All residents in the city are being asked to stay clear of the river and its banks.
In Cumberland House, emergency crews are continuing their work to build berms to protect valuable infrastructure. That work should be complete by Monday.
Duane McKay, the province’s commissioner of emergency planning, says crews have also set up a pet patrol:
“There is a patrol that goes by those sites and makes sure they are let out, fed and watered — so that they are secure. When the residents come back, their pets will be in good shape and quite happy to see them.”
About 2,200 residents have been evacuated from the village of Cumberland House and the Cumberland House Cree nation. They had to leave their pets behind.
The only access road to the communities is already flooded out in several areas. It will be underwater for some time, possibly two weeks. Meanwhile, the level of Cumberland Lake continues to rise. Officials say this is all happening slowly — and once it peaks, it will be a slow process as the lake recedes back to normal.