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Born in Ethiopia, new flood forecaster brings North American, European experience

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Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Steve Ashton, right, introduces Fisaha Unduche to the media today.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation Steve Ashton, right, introduces Fisaha Unduche to the media today. Photo Store

Manitoba has a new flood forecaster.

Fisaha Unduche, introduced today, now leads a 12-person team going into a possible -- although it’s too early to predict how severe, if at all -- spring flood.

Unduche, 38, replaces Phillip Mutulu.

Unduche, born and raised in southern Ethiopia, was the best of seven final candidates for the province’s top flood fighter job. Four, including Unduche, were internal candidates.

The province says Unduche has 15 years experience in hydrological and flood issues in North America and Europe. For the past five years he has worked as the senior water control systems planning engineer for the province. Prior to joining the Manitoba government, he worked as a water resources engineer at AECOM, an international engineering services company.

He received his master of civil engineering at the International Hydraulic Engineering Institute in the Netherlands and undertook further post-graduate work at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology.

He also has a PhD in water resource engineering from the University of Manitoba and has worked in various organizations as a water resources engineer and water resources professor dealing with various flood-forecasting and flood-management issues.

Unduche’s first spring flood outlook will be released later this week.

He has lived in Manitoba since 2004. He is married and has two young children.

He told reporters that he decided to come to Manitoba to further his study of water by essentially Googling places that flooded a lot and universities that specialized in flood forecasting.

"When I was in Africa I Googled, 'What is the best place for water and flood fighting' and Manitoba is one of the best places," he said. "That’s how I came to Manitoba."

Unduche was a student of U of M Professor Jay Doering.

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