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Weyburn in recovery mode after declaring state of emergency

Mayor Debra Button is claiming that Weyburn is now in "recovery mode" as flood waters have begun to recede since the City declared a state of emergency last weekend.
Premier Brad Wall spoke with members of the media in front of Weyburn City Hall on June 20. Wall toured the disaster areas of Weyburn, Estevan, Radville and Yellow Grass to observe the effects of the flooding first-hand.

Mayor Debra Button is claiming that Weyburn is now in "recovery mode" as flood waters have begun to recede since the City declared a state of emergency last weekend.

Financial assistance from the province has been promised by Premier Brad Wall to help compensate the millions of dollars the City of Weyburn has been forced to spend on flood relief efforts.

"The government is going to be there for the people in southeast Saskatchewan who are facing this," Wall told media.

The Premier attended a closed-door meeting with City and R.M. officials prior to speaking with the media on June 20, where he said that officials must "do what they need to do and we will be there for you." He said that the province has made many improvements to the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP) and will use the "rainy day fund" to help cover costs to repair communities affected by the flood.

Weyburn was forced to declare a state of emergency at 8:30 p.m. on June 17 as flooding caused an electrical failure at the sewage treatment plant, shutting it down and leading to a precautionary boil water advisory. Repairs to the four pumps at the plant were underway at the time of printing, however the advisory is still in effect for the time being until the pumps and water system can be tested.

Besides hiring dozens of pump trucks to assist in the flood efforts, repairing the pumps at the plant will be one of the City's biggest expenses.

Residents and businesses are facing their own financial crisis as many were plagued with basement flooding and sewage backup when over 100 millimetres of rain fell on Weyburn over the weekend. Approximately 30 residents of Navou Trailer Park were forced to evacuate their homes in the early morning hours of June 18, forcing the Red Cross and Social Services to open an emergency shelter at Crescent Point Place, where between eight and 15 people have been staying since it opened.

The City was forced to request provincial assistance to open a Recovery Service Centre on June 20 at Tom Zandee Sports Arena for flood victims. Hundreds of residents have registered at the centre and many are seeking assistance from PDAP to help with the cost of property damage.

SaskPower was forced to turn off 48 electrical connections and SaskEnergy has disconnected about 50 homes in Weyburn since June 17.

The City has been distributing surveys to residents to try to determine the amount of damage that has been suffered due to the flood, however, only 764 out of approximately 4,000 households were returned at the time of printing. From these surveys, the City has determined that 398 residents have water damage, 79 have sewage backup in their home, 95 believe they have structural damage, 13 feel they are in an emergency situation, and seven feel they need to leave their homes.

The City is asking that residents return these forms to City Hall as soon as possible or call 848-3242. Flood recovery information packages are also being delivered to residents with safety and contact information.

Local officials, emergency personnel and volunteers were given a break from the ongoing clean-up efforts this week when the province sent 80 people, mostly government employees, from Regina to help. Two dozen of these people were sent to The Family Place to assist in the clean-up effort there. The family resource centre had three feet of sewage backup in the basement of their building on Fourth Street.

Button said the City has received much support from the province and she has received calls from the mayors of Regina, Yorkton and Moose Jaw to offer their equipment, services and personnel.

Many positive stories have come out of the disaster, according to Button. A call for volunteers on June 19 reached over 200 willing people, who helped fill sandbags and distribute information packages to residents. She said the city has now become a "sandbag centre for the southeast" and is distributing sandbags to waterlogged Lampman and Benson.

"I know everything is a big mess but we're seeing some wonderful things," said Button. "We're seeing this community pull together and I'm so darn proud of everyone here."

She praised the work of local volunteers like the Salvation Army who has been "on the war front feeding our troops" and concession owner Myrna McFadden who has been feeding evacuees at the rink.

Wall mirrored her sentiment, stating, "In this province, we are going to make sure our neighbours are safe, that's first and foremost and that's what people are doing. Then we are going to protect property, keep lights on and water on in communities."

Officials are cautioning residents to conserve resources to lessen demand on systems that are under stress due to flood. Not only are water and sewer affected but power from Boundary Dam is running at less than capacity as flooding has limited coal transportation.

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