TWIN LAKES BEACH -- Partiers looking for fun in the sun this long weekend are being warned to stay away from this Lake Manitoba destination.
"Unless they're there to work, we don't want them," said RM of Woodlands Reeve Don Walsh. "We don't want spectators out here."
With Lake Manitoba rising on one side and Lake Francis's marsh on the other, Twin Lakes Beach doesn't need any more water -- or traffic on its only road that's now at risk.
On Wednesday morning, crews hauled 10 loads of two-inch rock to spread over the road, literally trying to keep on top of the rising water.
"It seems like it's coming up more and more every day," said Dave Proctor with the RM of Woodlands. Water seeping under the roadway turns its shoulders to muck as the fresh loads of rock slowly submerge.
"We're keeping up for now," said the reeve. "We'll keep that road open as long as we can," said Walsh.
As long as the road is open, cottagers and homeowners can keep sandbagging and pumping water away from their properties.
Near the end of the road, John McNicholl scrambled to move his collectibles from the floor of sheds all over his property. He and his wife, Anne, moved permanently to their cottage at Twin Lakes Beach from Sanford two years ago and are facing the second disaster at the lake in less than a year.
In late October, they got hit by a weather bomb -- a storm that toppled their lakeside sunroom. This spring, melting ice in Lake Manitoba rammed into it, finishing it off.
Now, they're facing a flood like they've never seen in the 16 years they've owned their place.
Banks of unmelted snow sit near piles of sandbags in yards like theirs that are filling with water all over Twin Lakes Beach. Half of the driveways are submerged.
"We need lots of help," said Peter Bradley with the municipality, as volunteers from Warren Collegiate sandbagged a seniors home.
"I'd rather do this than go to class," said Grade 11 student Jordan Manchulenko, unloading an ATV trailer full of sandbags in the sun with his classmates.
"I think it's great what they're doing," said Walter Morley, who's owned his Lake Manitoba cottage for 41 years and moved into it year-round with his wife a decade ago.
On Friday, three carloads of volunteers came out to sandbag but there were no sandbags available, said Morley. On Wednesday, Woodlands' Walsh said 60,000 bags were piled up at the municipal yard and another 60,000 were delivered to Warren. Later in the day, the province said another 50,000 sandbags were sent to the RM of Woodlands.
It said a provincial sandbagging machine and 150,000 sandbags were delivered to the nearby RM of St. Laurent and 66 government workers are in the area assisting with sandbagging.
The municipalities of St. Laurent and Woodlands have issued a precautionary evacuation alert for at-risk homes. Morley has no intention of leaving his home and the pumps protecting it.
"If they get us to leave, we wouldn't be back until next winter." Lake levels there aren't expected to crest until Father's Day -- June 19. By the time the water recedes, it may be too late to save his home, Morley said.
His shoreline was hammered by the weather bomb last fall, too, with erosion tearing off chunks of it.
Morley said he understands they live by water now and accepts the problems that go with it.
"It is a gamble," he said. "We're willing to put up with Mother Nature," but not Manitoba Water Stewardship's manipulation of water threatening homes on Lake Manitoba, he said.
"We've had some wicked storms... but Mother Nature did it. I don't like it when (top provincial flood official) Steve Topping does it," said Morley. He wants the province to review how it's responded this flood season and explain itself.
"Water Stewardship has to have an inquiry," he said.
Need help or want help?
The Free Press website (winnipegfreepress.com) carries detailed daily accounts of who needs help and where to go to offer help; probably one of the easiest ways to find out what's going on.
Coverage of Lake Manitoba's Delta Beach drew 200 volunteers to sandbag during the weekend that the Hoot and Holler controlled breach was made when the province's resources, including military, were tied up with the Assiniboine River crisis.
Here are some handy numbers and websites for those seeking flood information or to those who wish to help:
Provincial Road information: 1-877-627-6237
Provincial flood liaison office: 945-8373
The province's daily flood reports:
Local rural municipalities are clearing houses; their emergency co-ordinators handle communications and services. Check RM websites for flood updates and information on sandbagging and volunteers.
Some RMs share an emergency co-ordinator, like the RMs of Cartier, St. Francois Xavier and Headingley, making it easier to find out what's going on.
Three RMs' 24/7 flood hotline: 204-864-2871
Delta Beach is part of the RM of Portage la Prairie:
Twin Lakes is located in the RMs of St. Laurent and Woodlands.
St. Laurent: 204-646-2259