Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Grand Beach a wreck

Recent windstorm's damage widespread

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A landmark at one of the province's best-known beaches was heavily damaged by the windstorm that struck the southern basin of Lake Winnipeg last week.

And provincial and municipal officials are still adding up the damages from last weeks' storm, called a weather bomb, which sent waves more than two metres higher than normal crashing into shoreline all around the lake's southern basin.

Jim Giesbrecht, Manitoba Conservation's regional parks superintendent, confirmed the boardwalk at Grand Beach Provincial Park will have to be rebuilt, likely in the spring.

"It's premature to come up with dollar figures, but the damage is extensive," Giesbrecht said on Monday.

"The boardwalk is 300 metres long and the majority of it was damaged. We will want to rebuild it better than it was before."

The waves also took out the large sand dunes located between the parking lot and the beach.

Giesbrecht said a motorist in a vehicle would get an unobstructed view of the lake now, but he said the "sand on the beach is dynamic. We've seen the beaches eroded free of sand and then in a matter of months it rehabilitates itself."

Giesbrecht said other provincial parks on Lake Winnipeg, including Winnipeg Beach and Patricia Beach, also suffered shoreline damage.

There was also flooding damage to the Sand Bar Motor Inn in Grand Marais near the boardwalk.

Owner Patricia Gray said at one point the water was right around the hotel and it flooded the basement almost up to the top where the electrical wires are strung.

"The water was right up to the front doors," she said.

Meanwhile, Jim Stinson, emergency co-ordinator for the RM of St. Clements, said in the wake of last week's storm the municipality is looking at increasing the height of the roads that served double duty as dikes for flood protection.

Stinson said Mitchell Street in Patricia Beach was built to stop the waves from coming in due to wind and "it was breached."

"We will be restoring it back to its original size and the mayor has said he wants to build it higher," Stinson said.

Several cottages and homes in the area were damaged by the storm, but Stinson said even if they'd had 'tiger tubes' -- long tubes that can be filled with water to serve as quick dikes -- they would have been useless in the face of the hurricane-like winds.

"They would have been blown off," he said. "This was an unprecedented wind."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 2, 2010 A6

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