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Picking up the pieces in the wake of floods

People have begun to pick up the pieces from the recent flood that has ravaged many homes and businesses in and around Weyburn. Some people got off easy, with just some seepage in their basement or water in their yard, but others were not so lucky.

People have begun to pick up the pieces from the recent flood that has ravaged many homes and businesses in and around Weyburn. Some people got off easy, with just some seepage in their basement or water in their yard, but others were not so lucky.

After inspections by the city, there are still several homes in parts of Weyburn such as Navou Park and near River Park where residents are advised to use caution or are not yet allowed back into their homes. Around the city, it is not uncommon to come across a house or business with a large garbage bin in front full of belongings, drywall, or insulation ruined by sewage.

"It's been about five days since we started taking everything out; we've just ripped out all the carpet, and now we're taking out the big stuff," said Tennile Haug. She and her sister Kirsten Nichols are in Weyburn, from Moose Jaw and Calgary respectively, to clean out the house of Elda Haug, their mom. The house had its basement flooded with four feet of sewage, ruining everything in the basement.

"You can see it on the cement where the water was," said Tennile.

"There's a basement wall that's caving in, you can see it heaving a bit," said Nichols. "It was heaving a bit before, but now it's really showing."

The top part of the house has been deemed livable by city officials, but the basement needs to be reinspected. For now the sisters must empty everything out of the basement, before it can be reinspected.

"We've had to replace about nine water heaters, nine furnaces, and two washing machines in basements that have had sewage back ups," said Pam Kwochka, manager of Weyburn Housing Authority. During the week of June 19 to 25, plumbers, contractors, and property restoration specialists have been in and out of the approximately 10 Weyburn Housing Authority homes that have had sewage problems due to the flood.

"The sewage has been taken care of, but unfortunately seepage is continuing in a few units. It seems like after there is a rain we have water in places where there hasn't been water before. Most of the time we can't tell exactly where the water is coming from," said Kwochka.

The Weyburn Housing Authority has installed new sump pumps in several units in an effort to combat the seepage issues. Kwochka is pretty sure that the seepage is due to a high water table level this year, and that they will have to just wait it out.

It's not just personal residences that have been feeling the stink of sewage back-up from the flood, as several Weyburn businesses are also facing big clean-ups.

"We were hit by sewage back-up and we had to get the place gutted," said Michael Siourounis, owner of the Detour Bar and Grill. "There was about nine or 10 inches of sewage. We're sterilizing everything right now, so we're completely shut down."

The Detour does not have a basement, so all the sewage pooled on the ground floor of the establishment. There is no set date for when the Detour will be able to reopen for business, but Siourounis is optimistic about opening sooner rather than later.

"I'm not sure (when we can reopen), but I'm hoping that we can reopen in less then a month," said Siourounis.

Several buildings owned by Mryglod Properties have been undergoing extensive clean-up work due to sewage back up. Four of their properties were affected including, the men's side of Reality Bites, a building with rental homes on Fourth Street, and the Southeastern Centre for Business Development (SCBD), which is technically two buildings and houses the Weyburn Chamber of Commerce, Sunrise Community Futures and SEREDA.

"We had just over three feet of sewage in (SCBD). Pretty much everything was wrecked down there, and it's very possible that there were things from the 1930s in the basement," said Travis Mryglod. "We started pumping on June 17, and everything was dry after (sewage) came up a second time on the 20th. There have been guys cleaning down there all of last week, and they will probably be down there for the rest of the week."

The two tenants who live in the basement suites of the property on Fourth Street are currently in hotels. They will be able to return to their homes once the basement is put back together. The basement has been cleaned out, so it's just a matter of renovating it before the tenants can move back in.

However for some people these renovations may take a while. Due to the sudden large number of people needing to do renovations, several area contractors are experiencing a backlog of potential clients.

"I've had lots of calls from people, but we're already booked for the year," said John Hulbert, owner of John Hulbert Construction Ltd. "There aren't a lot of us; there are 10 full-time employees not counting myself. We've been able to squeeze a few people into our schedule, but we've had to turn a lot of other people down."

John Hulbert Construction is not alone is this situation, as Michael Lyon of Lyon Renovations has been seeing an increase in calls as well. He is taking on as many clients as he can, but he does have a growing waiting list.

Doug Mulhall, chief building official for the City of Weyburn, is advising that anyone who has concerns about their property get it inspected. Approximately 700 residents have requested inspections for seepage, sewage, structural damage, or a feeling of danger in their home. Inspectors will either leave a green, yellow, or red placard, or a notice that the home has been inspected. The green placard mean the home is safe, yellow means limited access to a home since an area like the basement may be unsafe, red means the home is not safe to occupy.

So far 240 homes have been inspected. Eight red placards have been issued, 15 yellow, and 160 green ones. For the remainder of the houses a notice has been left saying the house has been inspected. If a resident still feels unsure about their home, they can call the number on the notice for a reinspection.

Mulhall encourages people who have homes with old foundations to get inspections. With the large amount of moisture old foundations are likely to incur damage. This can range from cracking and the ground pushing against the foundation, to more serious damage.