Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Couple welcomes permanent protection

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ST. CLEMENTS -- A huge, earthen dike is emerging in Gail and Lyle Bryant's backyard.

Finally.

And the crew foreman said starting this weekend, the heavy equipment will work around the clock to get it built before the water rises.

The Bryants don't mind.

"This is great," Gail said over the noise of the machinery, as crews dumped and bulldozed black Manitoba gumbo along the edge of the Red River north of Selkirk.

"At the last second, they decided building a temporary dike didn't make sense. Permanent solutions are the only things that work around here."

The Bryants' home was submerged on Easter Sunday in 2009 when ice jams sent flood waters and ice floes into their home and into dozens of other homes and cottages at Breezy Point across the river.

Breezy Point is still there, but in name only -- the province bought the properties because of the threat the river poses in flood season. Despite almost 30 centimetres of water in their home, the Bryants didn't qualify for a buyout.

Their only choice was to rebuild, but the fear, until now, was that the water and ice would come back.

St. Clements Reeve Steve Strang said the new dike is just one example of the furious pace of flood-fighting north of Winnipeg. The dike is being built to the 2009 flood level plus another two feet. In 1997, the area did not flood.

"Of all the times before, this is the most we've ever been prepared," Strang said. "I'm proud of what we've accomplished. We will be protected."

For Gail Bryant, the work going on in her backyard, and in other backyards up and down the Red and Assiniboine rivers, could be the solution to future floods.

"It would be lovely if it was just a non-event," she said.

 

Highland Park

Just off Henderson Highway in East St. Paul, municipal workers and volunteer firefighters are building earthen and sandbag dikes to protect some of the nicest properties in the province.

The dikes are topped with fat black, water-filled aqua-dams, East St. Paul emergency co-ordinator Dennis Wiwcharyk said.

"We're a little ahead of schedule," he said.

Privately, some of the crew say the best thing that could happen when the flood threat passes is if the homeowners leave the earth dikes in place instead of removing them to re-landscape their yards.

 

River Road

Across the river in the RM of St. Andrews, municipal workers spent the past two days building a flood wall along a low section of River Road, just north of St. Andrews Church.

They're using new HESCO Bastion units the province purchased over the past few months. The government bought about 40 kilometres of the collapsible wire containers for $4.5 million and distributed them to flood-prone municipalities.

Along River Road, about one-half kilometre of the sand-filled containers have been deployed to keep the road open should the river rise.

"It all depends on Mother Nature on how much it comes up," Strang said.

How far and how high the HESCO flood wall goes is unknown as the crew was waiting word late Thursday on what the flood peak will be.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 8, 2011 A5

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