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A tale of two rivers: flooding along the Seine
Will Barmeier lives on a bend in the Seine River, north of Fermor Avenue in St. Vital.
Dave Watson also lives on the Seine, closer to the south Perimeter Highway.
And while the river is swollen and flooded near Barmeier’s property, Watson can see the river levels dropping near his home.
The reason for the discrepancy?
It’s all about the Red River, say the members of the Save Our Seine water stewardship group.
"There is an almost direct connection" between the Red and the Seine, says Barmeier, a founding member of SOS.
The connection is that the Seine is a tributary of the Red, meaning its waters flow into the larger river, says Watson, the group’s president.
"The irony is at this time of the year, the Red River is our tributary," says Watson, explaining that as the levels rise in the Red, the water pushes its way up the Seine.
"The water’s actually flowing backwards, and if you’re very sharp-witted and you want to watch, you can actually see branches flowing in the opposite direction on the river at certain times."
The swiftly flowing levels of the Red can cause flooding along the Seine all the way up to Fermor Avenue, adds Watson.
"That shows you the power of the Red."
At Barmeier’s residence, his small dock is partly submerged and the river has breached its regular path to swallow much of the usual riverbank.
Barmeier —whose work preserving the Seine was recognized by former Lt. Gov. Yvon Dumont in 1998 — says he’s grown used to expecting backlash from the Red River to affect his property.
An example was a few weeks ago, when an ice jam clogged the Red at the Redwood Bridge.
"Within hours, the water came up six feet," he recalls.
While the levels dropped again once the ice jam passed, Barmeier says he’s expecting the levels along the Seine to rise once more when the Red crests.
But Watson says for those Seine River residents living south of Fermor, and especially south of Bishop Grandin, the worse has likely already come and gone.
"The Seine is actually falling quite rapidly in the southern part of the city," says Watson.
"People think that this ongoing flooding is a permanent thing until essentially the Red River is crested, but actually the seasonal melting is done and the river is dropping very nicely."
According to a city spokesperson, five properties along the Seine River required sandbag dikes this year — four of which were north of Fermor Avenue.
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