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Rainy River holds its breath Sunday as river rises slowly and rain falls again

By Ken Johnston

The Town of Rainy River remains in a state of emergency Sunday, June 15, 2014 due to rising water levels on the Rainy River.
The Rainy River rose over its banks on Thursday after 2.35 inches of rainy fell that day. That combined with 2.65 inches earlier in June, plus heavy rainfall across the watershed the previous two weeks, rivers, creeks and area lakes are burgeoning and overflowing their banks.
Both dams in Fort Frances and Kenora have been opened to maximum outflow since Saturday. Yesterday it was hoped that Fort Frances might be able to close some its dam to give residents in Rainy River and other areas along the river some relief.
Rainy River Town Clerk Vel Vogan told the Record Sunday morning, “IJC (International Joint Commission) held emergency meeting last night, but will not be reducing dam outflows as Rainy Lake is also has high water levels and are sandbagging.”
Vogan said that the Fort dam’s outflow accounts for about half of the flow here in Rainy River. The other half comes from tributaries between Fort Frances and the Town of Rainy River.
Last night an urgent call for sandbaggers went out and was answered with people working until around mid-night.
This morning Rainy River Town Council met and decided not to call for more sandbagging at this time. However, they are meeting again at 3 p.m. today.
This morning heavy rain began falling in the area withe forecasts for up to an inch possible today.
Sandbags were deployed around several homes in the subdivision south of Riverview School and along the river just west of Sixth St.
The last time flooding happened like this, the town opted to dump fill along the top of River Ave West and build a burm beyond River Ave. West to the east of it. Vogan said that water levels have not reached high enough to call for that as of yet. “It will need to come a lot before we reach the top of the road.”
The road was constructed in 1952 after the “Flood of the Century” in 1950. Water reportedly came up as high as CIBC in 1950. The Town then build the road up along the river as a permanent dike. There was talk of building it higher after the last flood event about 12 years ago... however that never happened.
The Rainy River rose about an inch here overnight. The community only received scattered showers yesterday amounting to about 1/3 of an inch.
Vogan has been carefully monitoring gauges upstream and said Sunday morning, “The one at Manitou has recorded its highest levels since 1950.” On Friday it had topped 19 feet having been at 15 feet just two days prior. Now it is just below 21 feet. The discharge of water at Manitou Rapids is also at an all time recorded high of 71,000 cubic feet per second. The previous high was 56,700 cubic feet per second in 1970. The low was 3,570 cubic feet per second in 1977. This is based on records for the past 85 years.
While it is expected to rain most of Sunday, the forecast is for three dry days ahead.
People should keep checking the Record’s facebook page and website for updates on the situation.
Pray for no rain.