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What does the future hold for Roche Percee?

As he stood beside his boat, Harley Jahn had a perfect view of the terrible fate that has befallen the village he once called home. "It's heartbreaking," he said.
This look down Main Street in Roche Percee shows the extent of the devastation flooding has caused in the village.

As he stood beside his boat, Harley Jahn had a perfect view of the terrible fate that has befallen the village he once called home.

"It's heartbreaking," he said.

Heartbreaking is just one of the many adjectives that has been used to describe the situation in Roche Percee. The quiet little community of 200 finally succumbed to the Souris River June 19 and much of the village is buried underneath water.

Roughly three-quarters of the homes in Roche Percee remained flooded as of Monday and the likelihood they can be saved is minimal. That has cast a cloud over the future of the village known for its community pride and hosting popular events such as the Roche Percee Trail Ride and the annual jamboree.

Jahn, who had just finished providing a boat tour for a reporter, said he hopes those who have lost their homes will decide to rebuild despite the devastation caused by the flooding.

"I've had two people approach me about selling them some land, but I am kind of hoping they do stay in the village, it's a good community," said Jahn who was raised in Roche Percee and currently resides on a farm just outside the village.

"It's gonna be a tough decision. There are so many young families down here and everything they have is invested in their houses. It's such a beautiful place and it's just kind of heartbreaking to see it all flooded. Lots of times I wished I had never moved away."

Christina Turnbull is a current resident of Roche Percee and one of the people who has likely lost their home to the flood. Although many face a tough decision about their futures, Turnbull has already made up her mind. If her home is destroyed by the flood, she plans to rebuild in Roche Percee and continue her life there with her two children.

"I definitely want to live back down there," she said in an interview Monday. "My yard is almost two acres, it's all treed in. It's beautiful it's a lifestyle. You're not going to get it in any other community. A lot of people haven't been down there and I kept telling people before this all happened, you've got to go down there, it's beautiful, there's lots of history. It's a treat for us to be down there."

While Turnbull is enthusiastic about a return to Roche Percee, not all of the residents she has spoken with share her feelings. She said some of them are scared about the possibility of another flood and are likely to build their new homes elsewhere but she has no worries about staying.

"There are going to be some changes, I'm sure," said Turnbull who noted she is not yet sure how much damage her home has suffered from the flood. "With (the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority) they'll maybe monitor it better or have better controls. I'm not blaming them but there will be some changes made.

"I have heard some people just want to get the hell out of there. A couple of people that I know don't want to be back down there. They don't want to go through this again. But I'm already looking into RTMs and I am already looking to rebuild. It's a nice community. "

As mayor of Roche Percee, Reg Jahn is obviously hoping that most residents are of a similar mind as Turnbull.

Jahn said he has only spoken to a few of families but he thinks most will eventually return.

"The way it stands right now, I think most of them will be back down on Main Street," he said. "This is a one in 160 year flood so we won't see this again in our lifetime, at least I hope not. Most people I have spoken to want to come back."

With the water level dropping daily, Jahn said a number of people have been able to get back into Roche Percee to check on their homes. Although it is too early to say, it remains likely many of the residences will have to be rebuilt as the water reached as high as the eavestroughs on some of them.

Even with that knowledge, Jahn says many would like to return, something that speaks volumes about the quality of life in the village.

"This time of year I would usually take a walk around town in the afternoon. The kids in town would come up and talk to me and the adults would talk to me from their yards. I felt like the King of Kensington. Everybody is friendly. Everybody knows everybody.

"In a way this has drawn the community a lot closer. Before flood four turned dramatically worse, the community spirit through floods one through three had just grown immensely."