State of Emergency

Qu'Appelle Valley Flood, 11th April 2011
Qu'Appelle Valley Flood, 11th April 2011
Qu'Appelle River 13th April 2011
Qu'Appelle River 13th April 2011
Qu'Appelle Valley Flood 15th April 2011
Qu'Appelle River 15th April 2011
Craven Valley
Craven Valley
Craven Campground
Craven Campground

Qu'Appelle Valley
Qu'Appelle Valley

Qu'Appelle River Firesky
Qu'Appelle River Firesky

I don’t know if you’ve heard about this yet, but the valley in which I live is flooding. This isn’t uncommon; there’s a reason why the people who lived in this town before me *moved the river* and then built dikes up around it. There was a huge flood in 1904, and then another in the 60s, and then a huge one in 1974. During the flood of 1974, buses were stopped in town and all the able-bodied men thereupon were conscripted into service sandbagging. High school students from neighbouring towns and from the nearby city were bussed out as well, to try to save the town.

And save the town they did!

According to the family from whom we purchased our home, they’d never had water in the house, and they’d lived here through that flood. I’m pretty sure there was water in the house in the 1904 flood, though. The river used to run right behind us. But apparently, in 1974, this house was dry.

I’ll tell you, I’m not particularly worried about the potential for our house to take on water. I probably should be, and I most likely will eat these words some day, but if you’ve been in our Creepy Basement, you know that a) it’s unfinished; and b) we don’t have much down there. Certainly not anything we’d miss. Probably everything that’s down there ought to be donated or tossed out.

I *am* somewhat concerned about the fact that all of the fields and pastures in the valley are under water. Some of them are under two or three metres of water. If you’ve ever been to the Craven Valley campground, it’s under a metre of water. The little campground across the river is kind of gone, and there were some RVs parked there that are probably in Qu’Appelle by now.

I mean, it’s very exciting, isn’t it?

When I was young, there were years when flooding was expected, but we lived on the river hill in Prince Albert and the river would never, ever have got that high. I was always far more scared of fire. When a few trees caught fire north of PA, *all* the trees caught fire north of PA. The sunsets would be painted red with the smoke in the air. I’d wake in the morning, the smell of smoke already thick and my eyes burning. Some days it was so bad we were told to play indoors, because the smoke would make us cough and the ash would gently drift from the sky like snow in summer.

At night, I’d go to sleep watching a flickering orange glow through my bedroom window. I’d dream of crackling, roaring fire. Each day, my mother and I would listen to the radio telling us how many more fires were burning from the day before, and how the wind was shifting. For being the sort of family that didn’t believe in prayer, we sure thought an awful lot about rain.

One year, there was record snowfall down in the south end of the province where I spent most of my days when I was wee. My cousins still farm there. We went at Easter to visit, and my then under-ten-year-old cousin took me out to the corner of one of the fields where water had washed the bed out from under some railroad tracks. It had washed part of a neighbour’s field across a grid road and into what had been the ditch. “We’ve never seen so much water in one place,” my cousin said. “Unless you count the lake. We don’t get rivers down here.”

We knew this year would be bad for meltwater. There was so much snow in the fields it took two weeks to melt. And it’s still not all gone; there are drifts two feet deep in the windrows. The river started to rise before the ice had broken, which isn’t uncommon, to be honest. But usually, it rises a metre or so, maybe hits the top of the bank, but doesn’t crest it. This year, it just kept on rising.

Every morning, I’d drive to work, and I’d whistle and say, ‘I don’t think I’ve seen the river that high before’. Because some habits are hard to break. Then I started taking pictures. Then I took some video, which apparently is Looked Down Upon by people in the safety industry. Although, to be fair, I *was* watching the highway. Through my viewfinder.

Anyway. My valley is flooding. My house might get wet. I might go canoeing in a fallow field this weekend.

 

cenobyte
cenobyte is a writer, editor, blogger, and super genius from Saskatchewan, Canada.

i make squee noises when you tell me stuff.

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