Initial costs for spring flood damage hit $200M
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Devastating spring flooding that washed out roads, forced Manitobans from their homes, and triggered local states of emergency caused at least $200 million in damage to public and private property.
Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk revealed the initial price tag for the “second worst flooding” event in the province to fellow lawmakers during question period last week.
“There is about… $200 million of damage that was done by this flood,” Piwniuk said in the chamber. He also thanked provincial employees involved in the 2022 flood response and recovery efforts, which stretched more than four months.
“When it comes to the parks staff, to my staff, the (Emergency Measures Organization) staff, they worked around the clock… and they did a very good job.”
Piwniuk, who was in Vita to announce $60 million for a roadworks project in the area, was unavailable for an interview Wednesday, his press secretary said.
Municipalities, small businesses, private property owners and other organizations had until Sept. 23 to submit claims to the province’s disaster financial assistance program, which helps cover uninsurable losses of basic and essential property.
According to the province, about 115 claims had been submitted by municipalities covering more than 6,900 sites. Approximately 2,200 private claims were also received.
“Since 2000, this is projected to be the second-most costly flood event, only surpassed by the 2011 flood, and on par with the flooding that occurred in June 2014,” an infrastructure department spokesperson said in a statement.
The 2011 flood cost the provincial government more than $1 billion, including $359 million in assistance to producers and $89 million for an emergency channel and other infrastructure works.
The federal government is expected to cover a portion of the expense, though cost-sharing terms between the two levels of government are still being determined.
High waters hit much of southern Manitoba this spring as massive amounts of melting snow — Winnipeggers will recall digging out during the third-snowiest February on record — combined with persistent storms and rainfall to cause lakes and rivers to rise and result in major overland flooding.
The Rural Municipality of Morris suffered some $10-$15 million in damages during the flood, Reeve Ralph Groening said. In May, rising water forced the closure of the ring dike around the community about 60 kilometres south of Winnipeg and shuttered Highway 75, which runs through the town, for more than a month.
Now in recovery mode, Groening said the RM is being challenged with labour and equipment shortages as it looks to repair damaged, critical infrastructure, including two bridges.
“We’re competing with other jobs,” the reeve said. “Contractors, some of them, have left us… There’s not enough equipment, not enough manpower to complete the work this fall.”
Groening estimated repair work in Morris could be complete by next year.
According to the government, inspections of private property and engineering assessment on provincial and municipal public infrastructure are ongoing, and costs are expected to increase as claims are finalized.
Parks Minister Jeff Wharton said the province’s share of the bill to restore parks overrun with floodwaters is also being reviewed. Wharton said Ottawa is also expected to assist the province in covering damages to provincial parks.
Campgrounds, roadways and shorelines throughout a number of provincial parks, including Whiteshell, Birch Point, Nopiming, Duck Mountain and Rainbow Beach, were damaged due to high lake levels and overland flooding.
Wharton said he expects affected parks to be “very close” to fully operational for the 2023 camping season.
Danielle Da Silva
Danielle Da Silva is a general assignment reporter.