Can’t rest on laurels yet

Coming up this weekend, and through to Tuesday and the following weekend, are celebrations marking both Canada Day and the Fourth of July across Borderland.
A combined effort on both sides of the border has created a week-long celebration, although the flood threat unfortunately has forced both the Dragon Boat Festival and cross-border “Pulling for Peace” tug-of-war events to be cancelled.
Still, together we can celebrate how successful we’ve been in holding back Rainy Lake and protecting our neighbours and communities.
It has been a tiring but rewarding struggle as neighbours helped neighbours, and strangers came to Couchiching First Nation, Ranier, Fort Frances, Rainy River, and Watten to help build sandbag dikes along the shores of Rainy Lake and the Rainy River.
It is time to celebrate the spirit and generosity of our citizens who rallied day and night to fill sandbags. The hundreds who volunteered are to be cheered and thanked whether in Fort Frances, Rainy River, Couchiching, Ranier, or Watten.
We, as a community, discovered that many of our visiting summer friends took time from their vacations to assist. It also was great to have the Ministry of Natural Resources bring in fire crews from across the Northwest Region to assist in the sandbagging effort.
Over in International Falls, the U.S. National Guard arrived and helped save homes in distress and prevented further damage. At one point, almost 400 volunteers were at Kerry Park filling sandbags.
On this side of the border, no numbers were recorded of the volunteers who came out. But the important discovery was that we all shared a common concern.
The worry of flooding helped created a clear focus and common desire to work together. And the camaraderie that developed between strangers will be remembered.
The communities came together; people came together.
Rainy Lake continues to rise as the inflow of water still exceeds the outflow through the dam here. All communities continue on high alert, strengthening berms and capping low storm sewer drains.
At Couchiching, work already has begun shoring up the bank of their cemetery through the placement of large rocks.
The water is receding in the lower river, lessening pressure on Emo and Rainy River. The flow of water from the Big Fork and Little Fork rivers is declining, allowing more water to pass from the upper river into the lower river.
But as more water continues to flow into Rainy Lake than leave, the worry is a huge rainstorm and high winds may create more problems.
We can’t rest on our success quite yet.

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