Manitoba Flooding

Deanna Waters can still remember the water climbing up her backyard during the flood of 1997.

She was one of over 25,000 residents who had to abandon their homes as the Red River rose in Manitoba.

“We had to get out of course. We really didn’t know what was going to happen. It was really unnerving,” said Waters, who still lives in the same house on Kingston Row.

Waters said she was lucky that year, her property wasn’t damaged thanks to the support of the Old St. Vital community. She said all her neighbours helped sandbag her home.

She still has a photo of her and her husband David standing beside a mountain of sandbags on her property.

She said she’s not concerned about this potential of a flood this year because they're better prepared.

“After the flood, they [province] built up the dyke all the way around the property,” she said, “We really don’t worry about it. We have the floodway so that helps somewhat, and it just has to do with how much snow we’re getting.”
This is an aerial view of Manitoba's Red River. Flooding occurs when water levels spill over the river banks due to spring thawing./William Ludwick
Earlier this week, the province announced in a flood forecast that the Red River is expected to rise up to 2009 to 2011 levels.

Emergency relief shelters are already up and running, and sand bagging is well underway.

“We have established a preparedness committee and we have a number of sandbags now in warm storage,” says Dennis Wiwcharyk, emergency coordinator of East St. Paul. “We are digging our ditches, culverts and drains, we are sourcing pumps and hoses, and ensuring that we have what we need.”

Wiwcharyk said for East St. Paul, flood warnings are more serious this year.

“We’re hoping for the best-case scenario, a nice slow melt, but we are preparing for the worst,” he said. “We have a large snow pack, there’s been no thawing to date, and the U.S. has received snow well above normal.”

Wiwcharyk said it’s hard to tell who many East St. Paul residents could be impacted by high water levels, but certain areas along that Red River are low lying properties and may be at risk.

The province is expected to release another flood forecast later this month.


Manitoba is gearing up for spring flooding
Deanna Waters still remembers the impact of the flood of 1997. River water was up to her deck and it forced her to abandon her home. This week, the Province of Manitoba predicted flooding this spring to be around 2009 levels. Dennis Wiwcharyk, emergency coordinator of East St. Paul is gearing up for a flood. He said sand bagging is well underway, and East St. Paul residents have been alerted of the risk.
Amphibexes break up ice on the Red River
Three Amphibexes have been out crushing the ice on the Red River since February 25. They started at the mouth of Lake Winnipeg and are headed South. The 20,000 kg half-backhoe, half-barge machines will break up a 25 km strip of ice from Netley Creek to Selkirk. Once ice is broken, water can flow more easily towards Lake Winnipeg. This will speed up the spring thawing process.
Red River Floodway Rant
The Red River Floodway is one of the biggest flood protection measures in Manitoba. It was built in 1962 and expanded in 2005. The floodway diverts rising water to the floodway channel so less water is flowing through the Red River. The province announced this week that flooding is expected to reach 2009 to 2011 heights. The province will announce more updates in the coming weeks.
Manitoba Flood Facts
Flooding in Manitoba is just a part of life. Manitoba is situated in the Red River basin, a stretch of flat prairie land. Major flooding occurs when the ground becomes saturated. In the spring, when the snow melts, water has nowhere to go except over river banks. This makes the province prone to massive flooding.
Chester Bartel on the impacts of flooding on farmers
Chester Bartel, owner of Bartel Farms and Bulk Freight said he started to prepare for flooding in January. In 1997, his farms experienced massive damage due to high water. He said his farming season was cut short resulting in a 50 per cent loss of revenue.
Lake St. Martin School
In 2011, Lake St. Martin First Nation flooded, and residents were forced to leave. Eight years later, many families are still in Winnipeg waiting for the province to rebuilt their homes. Lake St. Martin School filled the need for young Lake St. Martin First Nation students to get an education.