Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Residents on Lake Winnipeg shore clean up after storm-whipped waves

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Lakefront residents on Lake Winnipeg are mopping up after a storm Monday they say is a sign of things to come on the province's largest lake.

Strong north winds whipped up huge waves on the lake and pounded an already fragile shoreline. Last October's "weather bomb" saw an overland cyclone brew one of the worst storms in memory, chewing up almost 10 metres of shoreline in places.

Check status on web

THE province has created two easy-to-navigate web pages concerning high water levels on lakes in southern Manitoba:

Wind/storm alerts

Flood inundation maps

Flood Fight

"I think I have just one storm left," Winnipeg Beach resident Ann Cook said Tuesday. "I'm just a sitting duck."

Cook, whose home is at Stephenson Point, said winds pushed the lake's level to 718.484 feet above sea level and saw waves crash over the dikes around her home. One-third of her yard is under water, but her house is dry.

"I had placed about 3,000 sandbags, but sandbags aren't going to do any good on Lake Winnipeg," Cook said. "I need super-sandbags. I need super-duper sandbags."

The wind-eliminated level of Lake Winnipeg is 716.9 feet and is to peak at 717 feet by July 18 before it's expected to begin to drop.

Communities throughout the south basin such as Gimli, Winnipeg Beach, Dunnottar, Victoria Beach, Wanasing and Albert Beach have been busy completing new earth dikes buttressed by thousands of sandbags. Sandy Hook, Silver Harbour, Hnausa and Riverton are also diking.

The flood fight on the lake has two fronts: protecting as many homes and cottages as possible and preventing main roads from going under water. Lessening the impact of shoreline erosion is a distant third. Cook said Winnipeg Beach officials will review their diking plans at the town's council meeting July 27.

A few kilometres south at Chalet Beach, residents and cottagers saw more severe flooding. Waves from Lake Winnipeg splashed on front window panes and water from Netley Creek flowed over some access roads.

"The lake with the wind was close to being level with the ground," resident Sherisse Picklyk Dear said Tuesday. "It was coming up quick."

Picklyk Dear said her family's garage had two feet of water in it, and water under her home knocked out the hot-water tank and pumps.

"We chose to stay to ride it out and not put the children through the trauma of moving at night."

She added the RM of St. Andrews is looking at building up a road to prevent flooding from Netley Creek to give some breathing room for Chalet Beach residents and cottagers.

"We just know it's going to happen again," Picklyk Dear said. "This is just the beginning."

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 13, 2011 A6

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