For sale: Prime lakefront property in the heart of Lampman, a close knit community in southeast Saskatchewan.
They may be totally fatigued, stressed out and worried, but the residents of Lampman Saskatchewan can still call up their good sense of humour in the midst of the turmoil as they face another week of rising water that threatens to shut down their community.
Mayor Scott Greening will have none of that flooded out talk. Nor will his committee, the volunteers or the community of just under 800 who are committed to keeping the vast volumes of water away from the town's sensitive infrastructure and homes.
"Who would have thought we'd have lakefront property here? No lake for miles around here. We also have some fresh water for sale ... pick up or delivery," said Greening over the phone, making a good attempt at putting a lighter face to the ongoing battle with H2O.
"We're still proactive here, not reactive. If we had to be reactive, it would mean we'd be losing the battle and we're not," Greening told The Mercury on Monday morning shortly after he had learned that the flood waters that are threatening the town he represents, had risen another inch and a half on Sunday.
"We have the best heavy equipment operators in the province around here, so we'll dike some more, sandbag some more, reinforce some of the areas that needed it after a week of holding the water back and we'll keep on going," he said.
There was no time off for good behaviour although the word went out on Sunday that the crews that were assigned to filling up the sandbags, were to take the day off. But the delivery of bags and the shoring up of defences continued unabated.
The community was shocked and saddened last week when one local resident died from a heart attack while working on the water defence team. His name was not released by family, but in the small community where he was, of course, well known, his passing was mourned with respect, said Greening, who is also the head of the water defence team. The deceased's contributions to the town were noted by many, not just for recent work, but in the past as well.
"Our volunteers needed a well deserved rest, but the diking and the sandbagging continued," said Greening, noting that a north side berm required a little extra enhancement on the weekend while the calls from farmers in the neighbouring rural municipality for assistance to help keep the water from encroaching on their home properties received quick responses.
The provincial emergency measures supply teams have ensured that Lampman will have enough sand and bags to keep a steady stream of preventive structures built as required.
"We have designated people out there who could probably tell you how many bags of sand they've filled and delivered. Data collection is a running total," said Greening.
On Monday morning, the sandbag filling crews were back at it and Greening was awaiting a call from the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority officials who he hoped would be able to shed some light on just how much longer the local teams would have to put up with rising water. He said his calls to municipal officials in the upland communities such as Fillmore, Griffin and Creelman indicated there could be a few more days of increased flows into the Lampman flatlands before the water might begin to recede. "We don't have a natural river or creekbed or stream to count on to calculate, so it's a bit tricky," said Greening. "It's marsh land, sloughs, underground aquifers that are soaked and sending water out, I guess," he added. "We're not lucky enough to know about river peaks, if I can refer to you having a riverbank overflowing as lucky," he said. "We just don't know right now what day our peak will come and that's the challenge."
"We're tired but not beaten, bending, not breaking," he said.
"I can't say enough about our committee, our volunteers. The experts have come in here to help us, to tell us what we can do and most of the time we've looked around and noticed that it's already been done, somebody has already thought about it and got it done. Every day people are assigned certain projects and they go out and get it done and more," Greening added, referring to the local response teams that sometime number well over 100 per shift.
"We've built a protective system to handle more than what we expect is coming. It was coming in at a rate that was measured at about three inches a day, and now it's just an inch and a half. Water is still coming over Highway 605 but the forecast is for more sun and warmth. That's a good sign, at least I think it should be, shouldn't it?" he said with a laugh.
As for that lakefront property? Well, it doesn't seem that too many Lampman residents are wanting to sell right now. They kind of like living there and they're showing it.