Manitobans work day and night to protect communities from rising floods

As Manitoba experiences its third weekend in a row of challenging weather, some households are evacuating over mounting flooding made worse by heavy rains and soggy ground.

In the rural community of Ritchot, just south of Winnipeg, 88 households have been asked to evacuate their homes, which are located outside a ring dike. Only 10 households have been evacuated so far, Mayor Chris Ewen said.

Their homes are on low-lying roads, and if the water gets too high, it could be difficult for them to leave or for emergency services to reach them, he said.

“We want to make sure that when you get that evacuation order, you’ve really considered… your quality of life and your family members, and what it means to stay at home,” Ewen said in an interview on Saturday.

Joel Lemoine worked with several other community members to control flooding just north of Ste. agatha. (Radio Canada)

But families don’t know how long they can be away from home when they leave, and neither does the mayor of the RM.

“I wish I could predict the weather and see what happens in the coming days, but it can range from a 12-hour worry to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the situation,” Ewen says. said.

Just outside St. Located in Ritchot’s RM, Agathe slept in their vehicles at night, with each member taking turns looking at the pumps and other equipment to make sure everything ran smoothly.

“Over the next few weeks or two, we’ll still be monitoring to make sure the Red River doesn’t exceed capacity” and to keep an eye on the community’s levee, said Joel Lemoine, who lives in the city.

A tiger dam wraps around the outside of a house on Fisher River Cree Nation. The community has several other homes that are similarly protected as the water rises. A household has been evacuated. (Submitted by Jeremy Neault)

Southwest of Ritchot, the town of Morden declared a local state of emergency on Saturday as rising water levels forced dozens of people from their homes.

Further north, Fisher River Cree Nation, on the western shore of Lake Winnipeg, was also under state of emergency.

It was declared Friday over fears that this weekend’s rainfall would lead to a significant risk of flooding, the First Nation said in a social media post.

Crews stand guard at an embankment just north of Ste. Agatha on Saturday. (Radjaa Abdelsadok/Radio Canada)

Chief David Crate says seven homes were directly affected by flooding, and one household was evacuated as road access deteriorated rapidly.

“The water has risen about a foot in the river since last night, and… the other problem we have is of course the rain now,” he said. “We are now getting flooding over land.”

Crate says Indigenous Services have provided Canada and the neighboring community of Peguis First Nation Fisher River with inflatable Tiger Dams, which will hopefully help the flood-prone community.

Winnipegger’s sandbag

In Winnipeg, people continue to use sandbags to protect homes threatened by rising waters.

Andrew Valgardson spent part of Saturday collecting sandbags donated by the City of Winnipeg from the Waverley Street garage to help protect his mother-in-law’s house in Charleswood.

Her basement flooded from backwater buildup, so he made two trips to fill his truck with sandbags.

Valgardson, who is a truck driver, said the weather was also bad for business.

“With the snow and the rain and so on, roads are closed, highways are closed. Warehouses are closed. Staff can’t get to work. It’s been really bad,” he said.

Andrew Valgardson picked up sandbags on Saturday to help protect his mother-in-law’s home in Charleswood. (CBC)

Bob Hunt also picked up some sandbags on Saturday. He said he hasn’t had any flooding so far, but isn’t taking any chances.

‘I’m on the cautious side. If you don’t have the bags, it flows out,’ he said.

As it continued to rain on Saturday, he said he had “never seen such weather.”

“It’s hell this winter and it won’t let go,” he said. “Maybe I should invest in a boat.”

Rain is expected to continue throughout the weekend and finally ease on Sunday as the system moves from west to east.

For those in need of sandbags, the city of Winnipeg says they are available 24 hours a day, free of charge, at three locations in the city: 1220 Pacific Ave., 1090 Thomas Ave. and 1539 Waverley St.

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