Roads washed out all over district

The Ministry of Transportation, the OPP, and Public Works crews are working around the clock to repair the damage this week’s flooding has caused.
Every township in the district is dealing with washed out roads, lost bridges, and stranded residents. And in fact, five municipalities—Dawson, Lake of the Woods, Rainy River, Atikokan, and now Emo—already have declared states of emergency.
Dawson, the first municipality to declare a state of emergency on Monday, still was without power for most of Tuesday.
“We did declare a state of emergency. It’s worse today [Tuesday] than it was [Monday],” township clerk Pat Giles said Tuesday. “We have a tremendous amount of roads washed out and bridges washed away, and flooding.
“We haven’t seen anyone from MTO or Hydro,” he added. “We need some outside help. We need resources from outside but most of the municipalities are the same.”
Emo Reeve Russ Fortier said his township is dealing with the high water levels as best they can.
“We’re starting to clean up the mess. I don’t think anyone is isolated as far as we know,” he said.
“The phones are working,” he added. “We think everyone could get out if they had to, but it wasn’t until this morning [Tuesday]. Some people were isolated for 24 hours.”
Emo contacted all the local contractors for help. They desperately needed gravel for the roads because they weren’t able to get to their gravel pit due to high water.
Rainy River OPP Cst. Earl Cole was called to La Vallee to keep an eye on the rising water at the bridge there.
“The water came up a foot in an hour-and-a-half,” he said Monday afternoon.
If that wasn’t enough, La Vallee volunteer firefighters had to wade through thigh-high water to battle a blaze at a renovated residence on Highway 11/71 (formerly the site of the old Johnny Canuck store) on Monday afternoon.
La Vallee Fire Chief Leo Pruys said the flooding made fighting the fire more difficult.
“It was nice to have all that water handy but it was quite an ordeal walking in 40 inches of water,” he remarked. “The store was attached to the house and our main concern was trying to save the house.”
The fire fighters didn’t return to the station until 9:30 p.m. but managed to save the house. The cause of the fire is still under investigation, Chief Pruys said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, traffic was backed up for hours in Nestor Falls on Monday as dozens of tourists, truckers, and residents sat in their cars waiting for three washouts to be repaired.
Highway 71 had been closed again yesterday due to wash-outs.
Chapple clerk Doris Dyson said they cancelled Tuesday night’s council meeting due to the adverse weather.
“Some of our councillors are marooned,” she said. “[Coun. Rilla Race] is just a few kilometres out of town and she’s on an island.
“It’s not good. There’s nothing passable at this time,” she added. “You have to go through water to get anywhere. Nobody’s going anywhere.”
The Dawson fire department had to use boats to evacuate homes as there were reports of water flowing through the front windows of some.