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Manitoba Flood Update – June 6, 2011

Reid Dickie

While we rest safe and easy here in Winnipeg – the Red River Floodway now unnecessary and closed – over 2400 Manitobans are still evacuated from their homes by inundations from Lake Manitoba, Dauphin Lake, Lake St. Martin, Assiniboine River and Souris River, to name a few. Now the Saskatchewan River is threatening The Pas in northern Manitoba. The photos of the damage are heartbreaking. This picture of Delta Beach on the southern tip of Lake Manitoba has become a sad but typical scene along the shoreline. After last week’s torrential rains, many rivers and lakes will be cresting again over the next month, forcing emergency crews to remain vigilant.

Best Idea the Province Has Had in Ages!

Some good thinking, finally! The Manitoba government has a wind set-up alert system for Lake Winnipeg’s south basin, Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipegosis and Dauphin Lake. There are three levels of alerts: moderate, high and severe. If wind set-up is forecast to be light, no alert will be issued. Alerts will be provided daily when winds are a concern and posted online at: http://www.manitoba.ca/waterstewardship/floodinfo/lakes_information.html#wind_alert The The website is clear, the alert colours evident and, as long it’s kept up to date with correct information (that’s the trick), can be an effective early warning system for lakeshore residents.

Now that the waters of Lake Manitoba have begun to slowly recede, damage to the 715 evacuated properties in St. Laurent R.M. can be assessed. A team of structural experts began checking properties in St. Laurent today, hopefully giving flood-evacuated residents some idea of when they can return home. The evacuation zone runs along the Lake Manitoba shore and nearly one kilometre inland. The re-entry safety inspection team has to give the all-clear signal before owners will be allowed back in.

Some residents along Lake Dauphin are still unable to go home. The mandatory evacuation notice for occupants of homes and cottages along Beach Road and Valhop Drive remains in place. The R.M. of Ochre River’s order has been in place since Saturday afternoon. For accommodations, permanent residents in the evacuation zone are being advised to register with the Province’s emergency social services at Dauphin City Hall. Forty-five residences in Ochre Beach and Crescent Cove are under the evacuation order, eight are permanent homes.

Least surprising announcement of the day

Lake Manitoba is now expected to hit 816.5 feet in July, almost a foot higher than previously forecast, Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick told the Manitoba Legislature today. Have you figured out why yet, Christine?

HELP!?

The scale, scope and ongoing nature of this year’s flood is very challenging for affected Manitoba families. There are resources to help deal with stress and anxiety in a crisis situation such as this flood. Resources include Manitoba Farm and Rural Support Services 1-866-367-3276 (1-866-FOR-FARM) toll-free; Klinic Community Health Centre 24-hour Crisis Line 786-8686 in Winnipeg or 1-888-322-3019 toll-free; and Health Links–Info Santé which can also help find resources through local regional health authorities or the community mental-health services office 788-8200 in Winnipeg or 1-888-315-9257 toll-free. Additional information and tips are available at www.gov.mb.ca/flooding/stressinfo.html.

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Three Manitoba Flood Comments

I trawl select comment pages for accounts and background on the flood. Here are three comments from a CBC report about how much water the Portage Diversion added to Lake Manitoba, which continues to flood. I have no idea who made these statements, make no claim as to their veracity and present them as potential examples of how far ahead of the government Manitobans are and how deep the harm from man-made flooding has gone. Here’s the quote from the article.

“(Steve) Topping said extra flows from the diversion represented about three inches of water to Lake Manitoba.”

Comment #1

The “extra flows” are those in excess of 25,000 cfs. If you can calculate that, be honest with us now and tell us how much the entire diversion contributed over the full time of its operation and how much it continues to contribute, since it is still in operation. Please project how much more it will add. And don’t give us a wishy-washy “well, it’s hard to say because of the natural flows.” That’s untrue. It’s math. Calculate volume. To put things in perspective, tell us how much each river and the unnatural diversion individually contributed.

This is what many people along the lake, as well as those watching from across Manitoba, are wondering. Frankly, we know you made a mistake. You know it. Own up. Give us the facts. Telling the truth and giving information is the start to healing the people along the lake – though every storm is now going to rip open the wound caused by the use of Lake Manitoba as a storage facility.

Comment #2

Fairford River Flows:
8,400 cfs July 10 to Dec 1, 2010
5,600 cfs Dec 1, 2010 to mid-Feb 2011
9,100 cfs mid-Feb to mid-Apr 2011

Lake Manitoba level 812.66 at freeze-up, rose 4 inches to 812.99 at breakup. At the end of November last year someone made the decision to keep Lake Manitoba at or above regulated levels over the winter in order to prevent flooding downstream of the Fairford Dam.  In retrospect this appears to have been a very poor decision.

Comment #3

Volume of water which has flowed down the Portage Diversion between April 6 and June 2 equals 2,355,000 acre-feet.  Surface area of Lake Manitoba is approximately 1,152,000 acres.  Divide the first number by the second to arrive at the increase in lake levels due to the diversion is 2.04 feet.

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Manitoba Flood Update – June 1

Reid Dickie

CKDM Radio in Dauphin is reporting extensive new flooding in many northern regions. It`s not just cottage country being inundated.

The RM of Ochre River has announced a Mandatory evacuation notice for residents of Beach Road and Crescent Cove. Residents of other areas in Ochre Beach affected by flooding will be allowed local access to secured areas. These additional areas are on stand-by for evacuation. The RM says if the high winds continue, additional evacuations will be announced later in the week. Over 50,000 sandbags are on route to the area from the Provincial Government. As well, a sandbagging machine and a team of flood specialists should be on the scene by Friday. No volunteers are being asked for at this time since strong waves are preventing the shoring up of dikes.

The Village of Winnipegosis is in full flood prevention mode as the town battles leftover flooding from Tuesday. Resident Melody Penner says there was lots of hard work happening yesterday. At last update the Village was experiencing breaches along sections of a dike which was completed north of Lily Street. The Village is asking people to please keep away from the beach area and trailer court as work continues, and they are warning that unauthorized vehicles and traffic may be charged. For more information, call the Winnipegosis information line at 656-4876.

All the heavy rain in the short period of time yesterday has prompted the Village of McCreary to go into a local state of emergency. However this does not mean people are being told to evacuate. The emergency has caused the towns sewer system to overload and several basements have flooded due to the sewer backing up. The village is asking for volunteers to sandbag, if you can please go to the Village of McCreary shop at First and East behind the hospital. For further information call 204-835-2341.

The RM of Siglunes has extended the State of Emergency from June 2 to June 16th due to high lake levels, overland flooding and increased rainfall.Local emergency measures personnel are monitoring properties along Lake Manitoba and problem areas. Residents are encouraged to use caution when travelling on flooded roads. Flooded sections should be marked with stakes to identify at risk areas. Property owners are encouraged to check dikes and contact EMC personnel or the RM Office 768-2641 if they need further assistance or sandbags.

The media seems to be parked at Delta Beach. Meanwhile, most of St. Laurent and Oak Point were evacuated last night. The lake has moved inland almost a kilometer in some spots after last nights storm, with whitecaps rolling where fields and lawns once were. It is not just hurting cottage country anymore. These are people being displaced from their family homes, quite far from the waterfront.

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The Flood Moves North – Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reid Dickie

Reminder: hover cursor over picture for caption/comment

“Get rid of God and religion and replace it with a government which pretends to deliver redemption with a cheque book; but how does the rational age god guarantee redemption without perpetual motion of the second kind? This is a thing of beauty: subsidize the destruction of nature (soil, water, specie) and then compensate the recipients when their subsidy cannot be collected because big bad old nature huffed and puffed. Yes it is a thing of beauty for the middlepeople who collect taxes, distribute subsidies, and then offer compensation for the inconvenience of failed assumptions while they pay themselves for all of the transactions involved. And we only have to sacrifice with infinite debt to accomplish this thing of beauty.” comment by Eco Bimbo on Free Press story about Manitoba government spewing $175 million around for compensation and more protection from future floods.

Meanwhile, for the rubber boots brigades around Lake Manitoba, things just keep getting worse. Two-thirds of the water coming down the Assiniboine for the past two months has been diverted their way and their front yards and basements are full, their riprap rocks swept away, properties flooded and an ominous sense of dread builds when they hear the northwest wind get up. Properties all around Lake Manitoba are flooded including Oak Point, Twin Beaches and Johnson Beach on the east shore. Delta Beach on the south shore has a voluntary evacuation of 30 permanent residences in place tonight. Big winds came blasting in from the northwest yesterday wrecking havoc along the virtually unprotected south shoreline, especially Delta Beach. Many residents are saying they had no warning and no help from the government. Manitoba Water Stewardship claims 100 military personel are in the area assisting and another 100 along the Assiniboine. Where did the other 1500 we had a week ago disappear to? They are needed. This ain’t over yet and somebody should probably tell MWS and the military that, soon.

Lake Manitoba outflows via the Fairford River, which is dammed right at the lake. It drains into Lake St. Martin, around which two First Nations are flooded out, then, via Dauphin River into the north basin of Lake Winnipeg then into Hudson Bay. According to today’s Flood Bulletin from MWS, “the Fairford River water control structure continues to operate at full capacity. Outflows from Lake Manitoba on the Fairford River and further downstream on the Dauphin River remain high.” So more water is being dumped into the big lake than its outlet can handle thus flooding. No brainer.

Inundated, St. Ambroise Provincial Park, which juts out into Lake Manitoba, Lundar Beach and Watchorn campgrounds on the lake, will not open this year. Tonight the waters from the weekend storms are surging gravity-driven toward their destiny in wide Hudson Bay and, as the flood moves north, the people in the way take their turn holding their breath.

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