MORRIS -- Like many Manitobans, Ray and Dianne Shaw were counting on the help of others to keep their home safe from rising floodwaters on Tuesday.
But unlike most, they hoped their volunteers would arrive by the boatload -- since their acreage just north of this ring-diked town has become an island in this year's incarnation of the Red Sea.
For the last week, Ray has been taking a canoe to his office in Morris, where he is an accountant and operates a real estate business. Dianne, who is not big on canoe rides, has taken three weeks off from her job as a rural route driver for Canada Post.
On Tuesday, while Prime Minister Stephen Harper's helicopter touched down less than a kilometre away on Morris's north dike, the Shaws were filling sandbags. They hoped a crew of volunteers would arrive later that afternoon to help them top up a 60-foot stretch of vulnerable dike on the west side of their property.
"The water is coming up higher than we thought," Ray said. The couple bought the property 10 years ago, after 1997's Flood of the Century.
Water is now lapping within a foot of the top of their dike.
Unlike Morris, which sits secure inside its ring dike, the Shaws' property, only 50 metres from a flooded-out section of Highway 75, is vulnerable.
"The various mitigation efforts have made a difference... Anything that's needed, the people of Canada will be there to help the people of Manitoba," Harper said later when he spoke to reporters at Winnipeg's airport.
Harper's visit to the community was his second in three years to view the rising Red. Accompanied by Premier Gary Doer and federal Treasury Board Minister Vic Toews, Harper met with Morris Mayor Dale Hoffman and Rural Municipality of Morris Reeve Herm Martens for about 20 minutes at the dike before departing for Winnipeg.
"He just basically asked questions (and) we just talked about our concerns -- that the international trade corridor (between Winnipeg and the U.S., via Morris) is a big concern," Martens said after meeting Harper.
Morris officials consider it an embarrassment that Highway 75, a critical north-south link that bisects the town, is frequently closed.
"I think we need a long-term vision and goal on how we mitigate the flooding," Hoffman said. "How can we stop this flooding from happening every second year, every third year?"
Ray Shaw said every time Highway 75 closes, businesses in town suffer.
Provincial flood officials said in their latest forecast Tuesday that this year's flood may be the second highest on record in the Morris area. The crest is now expected a little later than first anticipated, likely on Saturday.