Rainfall having big impact

In a little more than a decade, Rainy River District has experienced two extreme rainfalls. They may be a result of climate change that is affecting our weather patterns.
What was a 50-year extreme in 2002 is now repeating itself—and may mimic a 100-year extreme that brought on the flooding of 1950.
An almost 80-year-old landmark broke loose and floated up on the beaches of the Point Park in Fort Frances. The wharf on Sand Bay, originally built to handle barges and tugboats carrying supplies and people to far destinations on Rainy Lake, is no more.
The dock, which was planned in 1935 by Fort Frances council, was in full operation in 1936.
The wharf decking—under constant wave action and high water—broke loose on Saturday. It is one of the casualties of the heavy June rainfalls the region has received so far this year.
On Rainy Lake, many resorts on the U.S. side have lost their docks and sandbagging already was underway last Friday. On this side, at Couchiching and along Idylwild Drive, and at the sewage treatment plant, sandbags are being filled and placed as dams to hold back the water.
Cottagers on Rainy Lake are discovering that if they had not taken steps last week to add weight to their docks, the decking has disappeared.
Our cottage is high above the lake. Unfortunately, many others are on much lower ground.
Many lake cottagers are now discovering that when they arrive at their cabin, they no longer have a place to tie their boat up. I may be able to nudge into the shore, tying up the boat to trees, although that is not ideal.
Many of those docks, stringers, and debris that have floated off banks are now spreading across the lake. Boaters are urged to be extra careful.
This year’s flood, which is matching the famous flood of 1950, already is affecting homeowners across the district.
H2O Power had to shut down eight generators at the Fort Frances powerhouse. Over at the Boise powerhouse, with 18-20 inches of water on its floor, the company may shut down their generators, as well, to protect the equipment and employees.
Together, the two shutdowns would decrease the amount of water passing into the lower river by 24 percent.
Our dock on Rainy Lake only once has disappeared under the waves. That was in 2002. On Sunday it disappeared again.
My father originally had designed the dock to be about two feet below the “1950” high-water mark. My sister and her husband placed barrels on the dock last weekend in hopes that the lake would slow in rising.
It now appears that Rainy will keep rising for at least another week—and that’s without any more rain falling.
While the lake and river levels have been getting lots of attention, homeowners are discovering they have not been immune to the rainfall.
Septic fields have become flooded and backed up into basements. The high water flows into the sewer system throughout Fort Frances and Couchiching also has caused back-ups into basements.
The ground has become so sodden that water pressure is causing basements in Fort Frances and across the district to leak in places that have never leaked. Retailers selling sump pumps have sold out.
The wetness also will affect farmers and the upcoming haying season.
The flooding and continued wet weather will have other economic impacts right across the district.

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