ARBORG — The swollen Icelandic River compounded overland flooding in Arborg and destroyed a pedestrian bridge in Riverton as the Interlake communities dealt with their second flood in three years.
Early Tuesday morning, ice jammed up against both a pedestrian bridge in Riverton and the vehicle bridge at Provincial Road 329. The jams drove up water levels on the Icelandic River, which runs from the central Interlake into Lake Winnipeg.
By 6:30 a.m., half the metal pedestrian bridge crumpled away, said Harvey Johnson, who operated an excavator in an attempt to clear ice from the river. The Icelandic River also threatened to spill over its banks upstream of Riverton's vehicle bridge, leading the village of approximately 600 to declare a state of emergency.
A provincial amphibex went to work at 9 a.m. and succeeded in breaking up the jam two hours later, said Jason Comeau of the Riverton/Bifrost Fire Department.
The RM of Bifrost has also declared a state of emergency due to overland flooding that has closed roads and forced five properties to build sandbag dikes, according to a statement from Doug Anderson of the Northeast Interlake Emergency Operation Centre.
On Tuesday, whitecaps whipped across farmers' fields west of Provincial Road 326, driveways were submerged below flood waters and a series of gravel roads west of Manitoba Highway 7 was washed out by an overburdened drainage ditch.
All of this water is trying to drain into the Icelandic River, which lapped at the edge of riverside properties in Arborg, a community of 1,021 located 15 kilometres upstream from Riverton.
Along the partly submerged east end of Arborg's Crosstown Road, several homes are surrounded by water.
This part of town had never flooded before 2009, when flooding was even more severe, said Crosstown resident Brian Barkman.
"This must have something to do with drainage. Something's different," he said. "You talk to people who've been here for a long, long time, and they'll tell you it had never flooded like this, even in years when we had more snow."
Other areas of the Interlake affected by flooding include the Shoal Lakes, which are expected to reach record levels this spring, and Peguis First Nation, where the Fisher River is flooding for the third year in a row.
Flood toll rises to two
THE spring flooding season has claimed its second life, as a Lac du Bonnet-area man died over the weekend after his car rolled into a flooded ditch near the Lee River in eastern Manitoba.
A 35-year-old man was found in the Pontiac Grand Am after police were called Sunday to Belluk Road, east of Lac du Bonnet. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
RCMP are now urging motorists to exercise additional caution around flooded roads and ditches.
Last week, 61-year-old Raymond Stott died on Alarie Road, northwest of Otterburne, after he drove his truck onto a gravel section washed out by the Marsh River.
States of emergency
RISING water on the Souris River on Tuesday led the town of Souris to declare a state of emergency, albeit as a precautionary measure in the event the river continued to rise.
Stubborn ice on the Souris River drove up water to the point where it neared the top of a 36-year-old flood-protection berm, said Charlotte Parham, chief administrative officer for the southwestern Manitoba town.
Approximately 75 volunteers were erecting sandbag dikes around low-lying properties, she said.
Brandon also declared a state of emergency Tuesday evening to deal with rising water in a south end pond.
Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said a water retention pond south of Crocus Plains High School was about to breach its banks, threatening 700 homes in south Brandon, the Brandon Sun reports.
The state of emergency gives the civic government the right to go onto private property without permission, and do whatever work is necessary to mitigate the effects of flooding.
It was required to allow city workers to drain the rising pond into nearby bushland.
First Nation evacuations
APPROXIMATELY 15 people left Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, west of Brandon, due to flooding on the Oak River, the province announced in a Tuesday flood bulletin.
Another 10 have left Roseau River Anishinabe First Nation, at the confluence of the Roseau and Red rivers. Evacuations are also possible at Peguis First Nation due to rising water on the Fisher River, which has isolated some homes, the province said.
Ring dike closures
PARTIAL ring dikes were in place on Tuesday in six Red River Valley communities: Brunkild, Emerson, Gretna, St. Jean Baptiste, St. Adolphe and Ste. Agathe.
But the province held off on plans to close Highway 75 at Morris. The status of the highway will be reassessed every few hours, the province said.
To access a complete list of road closures in Manitoba, visit www.gov.mb.ca/mit/roadinfo.
Meanwhile, Interstate 29 remains closed north of Fargo due to overland flooding in Cass County, the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead reported.
The Interstate has been closed near Harwood since Sunday.
Flooding in the area is receding following the crest of the Red River.
The Red River is expected to crest in Grand Forks on Thursday or Friday, Emerson between April 22 and 26 and Winnipeg between April 27 and May 4, according to the U.S. National Weather Service and Manitoba Water Stewardship projections.