Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Costly prep work saves home

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BRANDON -- Some people laughed at the Reynolds family earlier this year when they learned of the extraordinary measures the family was prepared to take to protect their property from the expected flood.

But those laughs have since turned into apologies -- it appears the family's hard work may have paid off against a one-in-300-year flood.

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Bryce Reynolds, with the help of family and dozens of neighbours and friends, went all-out to save his parents' Grand Valley home.

"My son is my hero," his mom, Phyllis Reynolds, said Wednesday as she put an arm around her son.

The Reynoldses have lived at their family home on the south side of Grand Valley Road since 1977, and Bryce, a 34 year old Manitoba Hydro worker, grew up there.

It stands as a fortress against the flooded Assiniboine River, which has crept to within 20 metres of the house.

The defences include two rings of plastic-covered super sandbag dikes. One ring of 88 bags surrounds the shop, which serves the plumbing business run by Bryce's dad, Brian, while another 105-bag ring encloses the house itself.

"Better safe than sorry," Bryce said.

The family started to form their flood strategy last winter. They surveyed the local terrain, found photos of the area taken during the 1976 and 1995 floods and researched the local elevation.

Six weeks ago, they bought super sandbags from a store in Winnipeg, filled them with gravel and used them to surround the workshop, which stands closer to the river.

Last weekend, with the water ever advancing, they bought more super sandbags and set up a second line of defence around the house.

It took about 300 yards of gravel to fill all the bags.

Another super sandbag dike, which lines the eastern edge of their property, holds the river back.

Wednesday, the water had begun to surround the workshop but its dike held fast and pumps whisked away any water that managed to seep in.

It looks like the family's preparations may be enough. Judging the water level against the neighbour's garage door, Bryce figured the water had dropped a couple of inches Wednesday.

"I think we're good, the water hasn't really come up in the last couple of days," he said.

But that ability to breathe a little easier has come at a cost.

The Reynoldses have spent tens of thousands of dollars of their own money to protect the property. Bryce estimates the bags and other materials cost about $10,000 alone.

They also bought three pumps and about 20 smaller electric pumps that cost nearly another $6,000.

Then there's the $25,000 skid steer they purchased to put the super sandbags in place.

That's put a strain on the family's budget. They're not expecting full compensation, but hope they can recover some of their costs through government disaster financial assistance.

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 12, 2011 A6

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