Friday, May 1, 2009

Red River Flood Watch - Latest Update May 1 - Flooding south of Winnipeg a 2,000 sq km lake

Extensive flooding south of Winnipeg:

The last update here at the Canada News blog was 10 days ago and conditions for our friends in Manitoba have not improved much.

The flooding south of Winnipeg, although it has dropped today by about a foot, is still extensive and looks more like a 2,000 square kilometer lake than the Red River. Communities to the south are still behind ring dikes with homes stranded behind sandbags or small islands of higher ground. According to WFP many in these stranded south Manitoba communities are laying the blame on the City of Winnipeg Floodway, saying that the flood gates are not low enough and that more of the floodwaters should be admitted into the Floodway diversion to ease water levels to the south. The slowly receding waters will make life difficult for residents, hundreds of whom were evacuated with many still getting around in small boats and other water craft.

North of Winnipeg, where several communities declared emergencies due to serious flooding caused by the ice jams, evacuated residents are now returning to survey their flood and ice damaged homes. In the Regional Municipalities of St. Clements and St. Andrews, the Manitoba provincial government has announced it will buy out owners of properties in high-risk areas (like Breezy point) that have suffered flood damage several times in the last few years.

[photo CBC in St. Adolphe]

Evacuated members of three flood-affected Manitoba First Nations are receiving flood clean up kits from the Red Cross for their damaged homes. The Peguis, Fisher River and Roseau River First Nations are returning to their homes after several weeks of being evacu­ated.

Even in Winnipeg itself, though flood concerns are low there is still risk of damage as the city's sewer system is operating at reduced capacity due to higher river levels and runoff. High river levels means a bigger strain on the city sewer system, and heavy rainfall in the forecast the next few days means there's a greater chance of basement flooding. Winnipeggers can get more information at EmergWeb or by calling 311.

Also from Winnipeg, effective Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 6:00 p.m., the Flood Evacuee Reception Centre in Winnipeg, located at the Century Arena, will be closing. The Reception Centre opened on April 15, 2009, for people requiring emergency support services as a result of having to leave their homes due to flooding. To date, the Reception Centre has assisted 273 families, or a total of 724 individuals. Starting Monday, May 4, 2009, evacuees continuing to require emergency assistance will be able to access these services at the River Heights Health and Social Services Centre, 677 Stafford Street at Pembina Highway (located next to Price Choppers). The office will be open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.

Project417 volunteers were not asked to head out to Winnipeg to help, the local emergency and disaster crews along with numerous willing volunteers, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross have handled the flood response admirably. What Project417 will do is canvass for individual property owners and homeowners who would benefit from a volunteer team willing to help with re-building, renovation and clean-up for a week or two, perhaps among the First Nations communities. I'll keep you updated here. Right now we're on watch for any increase in the flu pandemic level in the GTA. As a matter of fact we're helping with the National Emergency Preparedness Week (May 3-9) event to be held at Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday at noon and expect to be serving more than 500 attendees a BBQ lunch from the Salvation Army's mobile canteens and community response vehicles ( I'll post some photos Tuesday).

[sources - Winnipeg Free Press , CBC Manitoba , Winnipeg.ca EmergWeb ]
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