Many residents in the RM of St. Lazare are feeling anxious as a steady wave of flooding sweeps their community for the second time in less than four years.
Connie Chartier-Tanguay lives in the town of St. Lazare, while her mother lives just on the outskirts of the community. Her mother’s property has been hit even harder than it was in 2011. The family has been measuring water levels around the home according to the height of their lawn ornaments and documenting the flooding day by day with photos and video.
"Yesterday, the water level was about a foot high, at the nose of the fawn," Chartier-Tanguay said of the deer ornament on the lawn. "Today the water is above the fawn’s eyes, about an inch and a half higher."
Chartier-Tanguay said that she and her brothers are working around the clock squeegeeing their mother’s basement to try to avoid having the same kind of water damage they saw in 2011.
They squeegee constantly, taking 15-minute breaks to rest. But by the time those 15 minutes are over, water has already seeped through the basement walls again.
"We are a little sleep-deprived," she said. "In 2011, we lost everything that was in the basement, so we haven’t really replaced much except for the hot water tank, furnace and sump-pump that was down there. We brought the couch, bed and treadmill upstairs."
In 2011, Chartier-Tanguay said her mother’s property suffered over $50,000 worth of damages. Since then, the government has reimbursed her with one cheque for $623.00 for flood relief.
"Even though they told us they were going to take care of us, we don’t believe them," she said. "We haven’t heard anything (from the government). If we didn’t have friends in Round Lake, Saskatchewan, we wouldn’t know what’s going on."
Chartier-Tanguay said their neighbours in Saskatchewan have been notifying them of when to prepare for surges of water. They’ve been working to prevent flooding since June 30 when a Hydro pole broke down in the area, leaving them without power for roughly 24 hours.
That was the catalyst for the string of events that have led to worse flooding in the area than in 2011, she said.
Since the RM of St. Lazare is located near two rivers, the Qu’Appelle River and the Assiniboine River, they’ve felt double the effects of flooding, said local insurance broker Bev McLennan.
"We have double the water and it’s insane, it really is. But it looks like this in pretty much all of the south of Manitoba. You could understand this in the spring of the year, but for heaven’s sake this is July."
McLennan said her insurance firm, Andrew Agencies, has already received about a dozen flood-related complaints, but because flooding isn’t covered under private home insurance, they’ve begun sending out letters of denial.
"A lot of the same people phoning in already know we can’t help and are going through the motions from 2011," said McLennan.
Residents must have a letter of denial from a private insurance agency before they can apply for government relief from an EMO office.
"It’s going to be a very costly cleanup, not just financially but on some of these older people that have been through this, having to deal with it again," said McLennan.
"It’s really stressful because there’s absolutely nothing worse than telling someone in their hour of need that we can`t help them."
St. Lazare’s mayor, Martin Dupont, has confirmed that water levels "are definitely higher than they were in 2011."
No one has been evacuated from St. Lazare yet, but the flooding has yet to crest near the RM, so the extent of the water’s damage and danger has not yet been felt.
"It’s making those folks a little bit more nervous, but as of last night, there were doing some additional sandbagging and they were still in their houses," Dupont said.
St-Lazare is located about 160 kilometres northwest of Brandon.
With files from the Brandon Sun