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Letters, Aug. 26

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Detailing city downpour

It was with some amusement that I read the recent storm over the city described as a "one-in-100-year event" (When it rains, it really pours, Aug. 23).

Curiosity got the better of me, so I had a look at the statistics. On July 12, 1914, the official rain gauge (then at St. John's College) measured a 24-hour rainfall of 133.6 millimetres. In the ensuing 100 years, the official gauge (at the airport since the 1950s) measured only one other 100-mm-plus fall, a reading of 107.8 mm on July 24-25, 1993. Truly, the recent event must surely be a 100-year event.

The airport rain gauge is a pie-plate-sized funnel, a rather small orifice to represent the whole of a 464-square-km city. An examination of the more extensive network of rain gauges maintained by the city since the 1990s shows similar heavy rains are more common when applied to the whole of the metropolitan area. There were 100-mm-plus rainfalls in 1993 (two of them), 2000, 2005 (two of them), 2010 and now, 2014. It would seem the return period for a century-sized rainfall somewhere in the city is in the neighbourhood of five years.

City administrators must expect a much more frequent recurrence across their area of responsibility. They should be building the infrastructure needed to handle such an inundation.

In my career as a forecaster with Environment Canada, 100-mm overnight rainfalls were a commonplace summer event and much heavier rainfalls are within the realm of possibility. I suspect that an overnight deluge on the city of 220 mm is not impossible, though the largest I've been able to find in the record is a 163-mm fall on July 23, 1993.

Jay Anderson

Winnipeg

 

Time to shut revolving door

The families of persons with intellectual disability are struggling with a revolving door of who and where they can get safe and caring support for their loved one (Funding crisis in community living, Aug. 23).

As a parent looking forward to "retirement," I find it exhausting to think about what it would be like to be worrying about finding someone whom I can trust to care for my adult child as well as worrying about whether that staff person will stay because waiting tables would be more financially stable. That's a lot of stress.

Thank you to Gloria Woloshyn and her daughter for sharing their story, and good luck to Abilities Manitoba and Community Living Winnipeg in making a difference.

Valerie Kellberg

Winnipeg

 

More than an inquiry required

Shannon Sampert's column Sociological responses to crime needed (Aug. 23) demonstrates that we don't really need a commission of inquiry, because we already know what works to help street kids.

An inquiry will drag the tragic details of this child's life through the media and try to establish who was to blame. We are all to blame. She was living in our city and she was our responsibility.

We need to make sure there are services and safe places for children like her, and Sampert has given good examples of the sorts of things that work.

Let's fund programs that work instead of wasting millions on yet another inquiry.

Jim Blanchard

Winnipeg

 

Any national study into the sickening failure of our society to deal with the problems faced by young aboriginal women like Tina Fontaine should include a comprehensive critical assessment of the aboriginal reserve system and the Indian Act.

Past politicians made terrible mistakes in establishing reserves, then engaging in a crude program of forced assimilation through residential schools.

Reserves provide little opportunity for young people; many reserves have deplorable rates of employment and many residents live at or near the poverty line.

And while we can expect band chiefs and councillors to oppose dismantling their fiefdoms, isn't it time for real change in the entire system?

Al Mackling

Winnipeg

 

No one should be surprised by Stephen Harper's response to the calls for an inquiry into the high number of murders and disappearances of native women.

Let's not forget that he leads a government whose highest agenda item is being "tough on crime" -- in other words, reverting back to before the notion of rehabilitating criminals to just punishing them.

People with this mindset just don't understand that crime has social causes. Hence, the prime minister's embarrassing statement that this is a crime, and not part of a larger sociological issue.

Edward Rice

Winnipeg

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition August 26, 2014 A8

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