Northern Sask. community cut off after highway washed out

·2 min read
Several sections of Highway 135 between Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay were washed out after heavy rainfall last weekend. (Submitted by Judy Muskwa - image credit)
Several sections of Highway 135 between Pelican Narrows and Sandy Bay were washed out after heavy rainfall last weekend. (Submitted by Judy Muskwa - image credit)

Evelyn McDonald worries she won't be able to get things as essential as food and water delivered to her home in Sandy Bay.

The 70-year-old elder — and more than 800 others in the village approximately 450 kilometres northeast of Prince Albert — haven't been able to leave the community since Sunday, when heavy rainfall washed out a section of Highway 135 between Sandy Bay and Pelican Narrows.

The highway is the only road in and out of the village.

Environment and Climate Change Canada data shows the community received just over 27 millimetres of rain on Saturday and Sunday.

Submitted by Judy Muskwa
Submitted by Judy Muskwa

"The babies are running out of milk and Pampers," McDonald told CBC Wednesday. "This is the longest so far [the highway has] been closed."

McDonald says there is an airport nearby, but she worries about the cost of flying in and out.

The closure is also impacting Hector Thiboutot Community School — the only school in the community — which serves about 400 students. Randy Mallory, the school's principal, says staff who live outside of the community haven't been able to get to work.

Courtesy of Hector Thiboutot Community School
Courtesy of Hector Thiboutot Community School

He's also concerned about food not being delivered for the school's meal program, which provides students with breakfast and lunch. The program is crucial since there isn't a grocery store in the community, Mallory said.

"We are in a low socioeconomic area so it's a concern for us always to be able to provide something for the kids when they come in," he said.

Repairs, reopening scheduled for Thursday, says ministry

Doug Wakabayashi, a spokesperson for the province's Ministry of Highways, told CBC in an email that repairs were needed on three sections of the highway.

Submitted by Judy Muskwa
Submitted by Judy Muskwa

A temporary bridge is expected to be installed Thursday at one of the points. Once that work is complete, the highway should reopen by late afternoon provided there isn't further flooding, Wakabayashi said.

He noted the airport is accessible, and said the Saskatchewan Public Safety Agency [SPSA] is available to assist the community if needled. As of Wednesday afternoon, the SPSA had not been contacted by the community, but would reach out to see if help was required, Wakabayashi said.

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