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North Battleford hit by the summer of storms

The Battlefords has joined the long list of Saskatchewan communities to fall victim to this year's summer of storms.

The Battlefords has joined the long list of Saskatchewan communities to fall victim to this year's summer of storms.

A major hailstorm that developed suddenly over the city of North Battleford during the afternoon hours of July 22 dumped an estimated two to four inches of rain, resulting in flooded-out intersections and homes across the city.

A state of emergency was declared in North Battleford because of the extensive flooding throughout the city, largely due to backed-up drains that couldn't handle the amount of hail the storm dumped. The major flooding was estimated to have started around 2 p.m., with North Battleford mayor Ian Hamilton declaring a state of emergency within the hour.

City crews were seen trying to unblock the drains in the hardest-hit neighbourhoods. Flooded intersections could be found extending from just east of 100th Street all the way to Sakewew High School, which saw its parking lot go under water. There were also reports of high water levels around the Frontier Mall area. According to the city, the heaviest affected flood areas extended from east of the downtown from 103rd to 114th Streets.

The hardest-hit areas saw basements flooded and cars almost totally submerged. City officials said Thursday evening that there were 97 confirmed flooded homes, but the province estimated Friday that the estimate could be much higher - around 200.

Seven families were completely displaced due to flooding and Social Services and the Red Cross have been helping to accommodate their needs.

A reception centre has been set up at Don Ross Centre on 99th Street for anyone displaced by the flooding. Representatives from the Red Cross and Social Services were there to assist with accommodation and transportation needs. According to the Ccity, the number to call for those affected by flooding is 445-1700. Those displaced by the flooding were encouraged to call 445-1754 or check in at the Don Ross Centre. It is to be emphasized that victims were not being put up at the Don Ross Centre - they were only being registered there.

North Battleford City Hall was closed for much of Thursday because of flooding on its main floor. The city has also placed barricades in the various locations hardest hit by the flooding. Children were encouraged to keep away from all bodies of water due to possible electrical currents or power surges. However, enforcing that directive proved difficult as children could be seen in several flooded-out intersections on Thursday, walking around and riding bicycles through the water.

There were reports of transformer fires on Thursday afternoon, all of which were eventually put out. SaskPower reported outages at Substation #2 affecting 11th and 17th Avenue and 101st and 109th Street.The town of Battleford was also hit with heavy rain and high water levels on Thursday, though nothing on the scale of what happened in North Battleford. A couple of intersections in the town did report high water levels.

There were also several reports that some farms outside the city in rural areas were also hard hit. By early evening Thursday, the North Battleford storm drainage system was beginning to catch up, and water levels began to drop in a number of the harder-hit areas. Still, North Battleford residents were asked to curtail water use - no lawn watering, no laundry - due to the flooding. Some booster stations were offline because of the high amounts of storm water.

As of Friday, the state of emergency was still in effect but the city was now in "recovery mode." A special council meeting was held Friday morning, where North Battleford council approved a resolution that an application for disaster assistance be submitted to the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program through the Saskatchewan Corrections and Public Safety ministry.

The storm that hit North Battleford is just the latest in a number of storms that have hit Saskatchewan this summer, including major flooding in Saskatoon, Maple Creek and Yorkton and a tornado that caused extensive damage on the Kawacatoose First Nation earlier this year.

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