Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sandbag fatigue hampers stockpiling

Tough to get volunteers out, RM says

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Call it sandbag fatigue.

Local municipalities wanting volunteers to make and stockpile sandbags before a potential spring flood hits have instead been met by a ho-hum public.

"There has to be a crisis," RM of St. Clements Reeve Steve Strang said Thursday. "Then it's jump-to-the-pump. You have to turn people away."

Strang said the municipality asked for volunteers to make sandbags for two days starting Wednesday, but only four people showed up to help the first day.

The goal was to make at least 5,000 sandbags with the outside hope of making 10,000, Strang said.

More volunteers finally showed up Thursday after a call for help on local media.

"We have had a real good turn out and we will be meeting and slightly exceeding (our required amounts)," the municipality's manager of protective services Jim Stinson said.

The lack of volunteers isn't just in St. Clements. The RMs of Cartier, St. Francois Xavier and Headingley are getting inmates at Rockwood Institution to make 100,000 sandbags this week and next. The bags will be stored at Rockwood, a minimum-security jail north of Winnipeg, until needed by the municipalities.

The Correctional Service of Canada is working with Manitoba's Emergency Measures Organization as there is a possibility, depending on spring flood conditions, the inmates could be asked to make more sandbags

Strang said the RM wants to keep a supply of sandbags on hand throughout the year.

"We had flooding in 2009 and we had that storm (on Lake Winnipeg) last October and now we might see flooding again," he said, adding Gimli also wants a stock of sandbags ready to go at all times.

"We are realizing we need to be prepared all the time," Strang said.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 25, 2011 A5

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