Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

Hutterite colony prepares for looming flood

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STARLITE COLONY - This entire community of 28 families is in a furious fight to save their homes - and their livelihood.

Nathan Hofer said today that in a worst-case scenario the water from a purposely breached Assiniboine River will get to his colony in four days.

But a best-case scenario isn't much better: "it will take eight days - that's what the government rep says.

"The Lasalle River is just 300 metres from our homes - it is our backyard," Hofer said.

"We are very concerned about a flood. We have 150,000 turkeys, 5,000 hogs and 13,000 chickens. We are taking a precaution measure - an urgent precaution measure."

The colony's cement plant is now filling giant sand bags. The colony's bobcat has a forklift on it to lift the giant sandbags into a dike being constructed by the homes built in 1990, when the colony was first organized on the banks of the Lasalle River.

A few hundred metres away, large bulldozers and other heavy equipment are being used to build a dike on the edge of the colony, where the livestock barns are located.

"If necessary Starlite will order the evacuation for the ladies and the children. But the men will be here to protect everything."

Hofer remembers when the area flooded in the 1950s when he was a child.

"They had to boat from the (nearby) James Valley Colony to Elie."

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

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