A broad look at the most widespread spring flood in Manitoba's post-colonial history
Assiniboine River Valley
THE big question mark in this year's flood fight, the Assiniboine River, has caused headaches for communities from the Saskatchewan border to the outskirts of Winnipeg because of ice jams and higher-than-expected flows from its tributaries.
Twelve more people were forced to leave their homes in the RM of Cornwallis, outside of Brandon, while the city remains protected by dikes. The town of St. Lazare, which sits at the confluence of the Assiniboine and Qu'Appelle rivers, beefed up its ring dike Wednesday
The province monitored Lake of the Prairies, which rose another three feet on Wednesday and could rise another 13 feet before it spills over the lip of the Shellmouth Dam, flooding properties below. East of the Portage Diversion, flows on the Assiniboine decreased.
Elsewhere in western Manitoba
AFTER a scare along Highway 3, the Souris River crested in Melita for the second time and will test the towns of Hartney, Souris and Wawanesa once more before its crest dissipates into the Assiniboine River. Workers continued to protect Sioux Valley First Nation from the Oak River as well as cottage communities at Oak Lake.
Flows on the Whitemud River and the Pembina Rivers receded.
Red River Valley
NORMALLY, the focus of Manitoba's spring flood fight, the Red started to spill its banks and isolated farms and acreages outside of community ring dikes on Wednesday. So far, 60 people were forced to leave their Red River Valley homes, mainly because water blocked access to their homes.
Of the 18 Red River Valley communities with ring dikes, partial closures or preparations have taken place in place at Morris, Ste. Agathe, St. Adolphe, St. Jean Baptiste, Noyes, Gretna and Emerson, which will welcome the Red's crest as early as this weekend.
All the municipalities along the southern stem of the Red have yet to declare states of emergency, mainly because officials have so much previous experience with flooding. Municipalities north of Winnipeg declared emergencies earlier this month due to the ice-jam threat, which is over for the season.
City of Winnipeg
MANITOBA'S capital remained in a wait-and-see mode, as construction of 94 additional sandbag dikes was put off until the Easter weekend just in case the province reduced its forecast for a Red River crest of somewhere between 20.1 and 22.8 feet at James Avenue in early May. If the province is certain the crest will wind up below 22 feet, no more dikes will be needed.
The Red in Winnipeg dropped to 18.2 feet James on Wednesday, mainly due to declining flows on the Assiniboine, but is expected to rise once water from the U.S. enters Manitoba. On Wednesday, about 40 per cent of the Red River's flow at Winnipeg was diverted into the Red River Floodway, which carries 25,000 cubic feet per second of water. The floodway can handle 140,000 cubic feet per second.
ALL but three municipalities in the southern Interlake have declared states of emergency or have prevention orders in place to deal with flooding along the Fisher and Icelandic rivers, widespread overland flooding and the continued expansion of the Shoal Lakes.
Peguis First Nation remained the hardest hit, with 622 residents forced to leave their homes and go to Gimli and Winnipeg to avoid the third flood in as many years on the Fisher River, which receded Wednesday. The province started raising a 400-metre dike around cottages at Fish Lake, southwest of Arborg, but the worst appeared to be over in most of the Interlake.
-- Bartley Kives
-- Source: Manitoba Water Stewardship