Locals manage to stay afloat

Haley Anderson

Homes and businesses have managed to stay afloat despite the still-rising waters and strong winds.
But Couchiching FN Chief Sara Mainville isn’t letting her guard down.
“We are pretty confident that we aren’t going to sustain any more losses than we have already,” she noted Monday evening.
“We are at the point now where it is kind of a relief.
“But we’re still concerned because the water is not receding,” Chief Mainville added.
“It’s only when we hear that the water has crested that we can really be relieved about having managed to get out of this,” she stressed.
Chief Mainville noted though only one home at Couchiching has been evacuated so far, she is concerned others may face a similar fate as weather forecasts are unpredictable.
“There is an imminence because there is a hydroelectric panel in the area that is entirely surrounded by water,” she said.
If it becomes submerged, Chief Mainville said Hydro One may have to shut it down.
“Any amount of rainfall is going to impact that decision and every single day the water is still going up,” she remarked.
“That’s 18 homes that will have to be evacuated because they won’t have service and they will need to find another energy source for their sump pumps, which are the only thing keeping them dry right now.”
Chief Mainville said her biggest priority right now is encouraging residents to “go about other activities” as most have been working relentlessly to protect the community.
“It is stressful to walk out your door and see two rows of sandbags in front of your house, and that’s all between your home and all your possessions and the lake,” she reasoned.
“But we are working with residents to ensure that they aren’t too stressed out by the damages being done.”
Meanwhile, Darlyss Krienke of Rusty Myers Flying Service here said although their property is in similar disrepair, the lakefront business has made “a little bit of progress.”
“We have a lot going on right now,” she noted.
“But its’ just internal stuff that we have to deal with now to make it work to stay in business.”
Krienke added one of the company’s three planes now is taking off from its Sand Bay operation while the other two are situated on the upper river.
“The volunteers have really blocked off the area so that water is not going to get up,” she said.
“We are hoping that it doesn’t rain anymore but I think we’ve got it under control.”
“We’ve done what we can do until the water recedes to show what’s underneath it all,” Krienke added.
Over at La Place Rendez-Vous, owner Paul Noonan said his business has yet to experience the effects of flooding despite its close proximity to the lake.
“The water has come up slightly in the last few days but it hasn’t really created a problem in terms of our business other than it is beginning to encroach on the deck area,” he noted.
“Right now we have a riprap which is holding well and [the water] is still a few feet below that, so it is not an immediate concern.”
But while feeling optimistic about the long-term weather forecast has in store, Noonan’s concerns haven’t been put to rest just yet.
“We are hopeful that [the water] is going to start receding,” he remarked.
“But if things changed with a big heavy rainfall, we might have to do some sandbagging around our hotel front.
“There will be a lot of docks and shoreline restored when this is all said and done, but for the time being it’s business as usual,” Noonan said.