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26 Winnipeg homeowners advised to build sandbag dikes

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Owners of 26 low-lying Winnipeg properties - almost all in the south extreme in the city - will be advised to build sandbag dikes as a precaution against elevated Red River levels in April.

After crunching provincial hydrological projections, city flood-protection officials have come up with a worst-case spring flood-protection scenario based on a Red River crest of 20.5 feet above normal winter ice levels at the James Avenue monitoring station.

That scenario - basically, a one-in-10 chance at this point - would see the Red lap at 26 properties along Cloutier Drive, St. Pierre Road, Forbes Road, Christie Road, Rue Trappiste, Kilkenny Drive and St. Mary's Road.

City officials will visit owners of all those properties in person by April 5, said Grant Mohr, the city's flood-planning engineer.

These properties will require 32,000 sandbags, but 85,000 will be made to cover the possibility of overland flooding in other areas of the city.

Sandbags are vailable for pickup at city depots on 1539 Waverley Street, 1220 Pacific Avenue and 849 Ravelstone Avenue West between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. daily.

City crews are working 24/7 to clear snow and ice away from curb inlets and culverts. Property owners can contact 311 if they have a problem with a frozen catch basin or culvert that is a threat to their property.

It is more likely the Red will crest in Winnipeg at 18.8 feet James. The city’s flood-protection plans are based on a worst-case scenario where the Red crests at 20.5 feet while ice remains on the river downstream of the floodway control structure.

That is the reason most of the properties slated for sandbagging are in southernmost section of the city. Most of those property owners are accustomed to flood fights, added Scott Payne, flood coordinator with the city’s public works department.

Mohr, Payne and emergency preparedness coordinator Randy Hull said Winnipeg is well-prepared for the coming flood, given the extensive recent experience with flooding.

Since the 1997 Flood of the Century, which saw the Red crest at a post-floodway-construction record of 24.5 feet James, there have been nine spring floods in 14 years.

Hull urged Winnipeggers to reassure newcomers to the city that the primary threat during flood seasons is overland runoff, not rising river levels.

History

Updated on Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 11:50 AM CDT: Updates from the news conference.

12:20 PM: Updates headline.

12:52 PM: Adds quotes.

1:34 PM: Corrects figure.

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