Windy lakes flooding homes

Sagkeeng, Mossey River residents flee rising waters


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High water and furious waves off Manitoba's major lakes flooded homes and threatened a major highway bridge Wednesday.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 28/10/2010 (4538 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

High water and furious waves off Manitoba’s major lakes flooded homes and threatened a major highway bridge Wednesday.

At Sagkeeng First Nation, about 10 homes took in water and were evacuated and six more were threatened as of Wednesday evening.

The bridge on Highway 11 just west of the community was threatened by water reaching its girders. If the bridge is lost, the community will have to use Highway 304. A school was also threatened.

“The waves are level with the land,” said Gerald Courchene, Sagkeeng’s emergency measures operations director. Sagkeeng is at the southern entrance to Lake Winnipeg, about 120 kilometres northeast of Winnipeg.

On Lake Winnipegosis, wind blew so strongly Tuesday night — upwards of 110 kilometres an hour — it pushed the Mossey River backwards and forced the evacuation of several residents. Rescuers pulled six people from three homes on a point that was cut off by the rising water.

The Mossey River flows through Winnipegosis and empties into Lake Winnipegosis. North winds sent wave after wave crashing onto the beach and up onto nearby streets and pushed the lake water back into the river and over its banks.

“We’ve had flooding before, but nothing like this,” said resident Jo Bunka. “I’ve lived here 42 years and this is the first time we’ve had such a major catastrophe.” Everyone worked through the night building dikes, she said.

A local state of emergency was declared Wednesday in Winnipegosis and the surrounding Rural Municipality of Mossey River.

A village official said the dikes were holding Wednesday afternoon and the situation appeared to have stabilized, but sandbags were still being filled in case they are needed.

Winnipegosis, with a population of about 650, is about 60 kilometres north of Dauphin on Highway 20.

Winds reached 90 km/h and skies dumped up to 60 millimetres of rain across southern Manitoba Wednesday. Water levels rose 1.19 metres (four feet) above normal on Lake Winnipegosis, 0.9 metres (three feet) on Lake Winnipeg and 0.6 metres (two feet) on Lake Manitoba.

Gimli municipal officials also declared a state of emergency.

“The lake is crazy high,” outgoing Mayor Tammy Axelsson said. The public works department also sealed off Willow Island. “The water was up to car doors” along the causeway that connects Willow Island to the mainland, Axelsson said.

At Winnipeg Beach, water from drainage ditches was unable to flow into Lake Winnipeg and backed up onto cottage properties. No cottages were flooded as of suppertime Wednesday, but people planned to keep a vigil through the night, said Mayor Tony Pimental.

The beach community’s primary concern last evening was having residences cut off by flooded roads.

At Fisher River Cree Nation, 14 homes were threatened and extensive pumping was taking place. Flooding has also been reported in the Netley Creek area, he said.

“There were some areas in the Interlake and along Lake Winnipegosis where the wind gusts reached 110 kilometres per hour,” said Phillip Mutulu, the province’s senior river forecaster.

“We were having a dry October until the rain this week and there was so much over the last 24 hours that in some communities, they’ve received 180 per cent of normal precipitation for the month,” Mutulu said.

Environment Canada is forecasting an end to the rain today, with a mix of sun and cloud for the next few days, but with much cooler temperatures, ranging between 0 and 5 C.

On Wednesday in Winnipeg, wicked winds knocked debris from a building onto Higgins Avenue early in the afternoon., forcing city police to close a stretch of the street.

There were also reports of downed trees.

In western Manitoba, heavy snowfall forced the closure of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Virden for a time. Highway 10 through Riding Mountain National Park was also closed for much of Wednesday.

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