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  • Writer's pictureCraig Baird

The Floods Of Vermilion

Floods are highly destructive events that can wipe away entire sections of a community, and over the years many communities have done what they can to limit that damage. The area around Vermilion has seen several floods of the Vermilion River.

In 1943, the Vermilion River would flood with hundreds of citizens forced to vacate their homes when the river overflowed from its banks. The older men in the district reported that it was the worst in years, and high school was closed. The hospital near the river bank was saved by the quick work of the townspeople, who aided in draining away the water through the use of pumps.

In 1974, one of the worst floods in the area’s history hit after the Vermilion River began to rise quickly, reaching 18 inches from April 18 to April 26, and then three inches on April 26 alone. The water eventually reached 13 inches above the top of the dikes that had been built the previous week before crews opened gates on a control dam across the river. The worry was that if the water flooded the area it would impact the water wells and treatment plant of Vermilion.

In 1948, another flood hit that wasn’t as bad but Alvin Isert had to save eight of his pigs from being swept away in the flood waters of the Vermilion River in late April of that year. The water was running so fast and deep that the pigs were trying to reach higher land but could not and were swept downstream. Alvin and his brother Shorty dove into the water that was four feet deep and were able to gather all the pigs and bring them to safety.

While floods aren’t incredibly common, in the past, they were something to worry about as one flood could wipe a homestead off the map. Thankfully, better technology and predictive tools mean that many of the worst floods of the district are behind us.

In relation to a previous column I wrote about the Governor General visiting Vermilion, I would like to add that the air cadets from Kitscoty were part of the honour guard that welcomed the Governor General to the community.

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