Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
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This article was published 10/4/2009 (4145 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SELKIRK — It’s been a wild ride for people living near the Red River north of Winnipeg, and they expect it will get wilder yet in the coming hours and days.
On Wednesday, an ice jam about a kilometre north of Bob Voetberg’s place broke and water levels in front of his house fell two feet in 15 minutes.
"But then the ice got stuck again and it came right back up again," said Voetberg yesterday, who lives about one-and-a-half kilometres south of the City of Selkirk.
That was nothing, said Voetberg. On Monday, the water rose four feet when an ice jam broke upstream at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site. Neighbours on Red River Road were forced to evacuate their home.
Those kind of fluctuations due to ice jams have moved downstream from West St. Paul and now it’s Selkirk’s turn to deal with it.
Selkirk Mayor David Bell said yesterday the ice jam was stopped near the Manitoba Hydro steam plant on the south end of the city as of Thursday afternoon, and hadn’t moved in about 24 hours.
"That’s what’s going to happen. The ice jam is going to leap frog," from place to place as it makes it’s way down river, he said.
"There are still huge pans of ice on the river."
Water will still flow underneath and over top an ice jam — and will back up overland, where it can flood homes.
That makes for a tense and unpredictable Easter long weekend. "You just don’t know what’s going to happen," said Bell.
Some reports claimed the river rose a foot between Wednesday and Thursday in Selkirk but Bell couldn’t confirm that, although he said it was starting to rise again as of noon Thursday.
The river did not seem to elevate much after the province raised the floodway gates on Wednesday. That’s probably because the gates were only partially raised, said Voetberg, who is protecting himself against a fifth flood since he moved to Red River Road in 1996.
The Voetbergs are surrounded on three sides by the river and he has to use his boat to get to his storage shed where he keeps all his equipment. But they can still drive onto their yard.
"Our fire department was here three times asking me if I wanted to build the dike higher. I said no. If you’re going to build more than 1997, where do you stop?" he said.
Voetberg and his wife had their house raised after the 1997 flood to the 1997 flood level, plus four feet. He had what looked to be about six feet of freeboard around his home on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Selkirk Bridge that connects Selkirk and East Selkirk on Highway 204 was closed Thursday because of flooding over the highway.
"Water has backed up and it’s going over the road," said Steve Strang, reeve of the RM of St. Clements.
However, that’s like the first robin sighting in spring—it happens every year, he said.
There are still tense times ahead. "As you head north of Highway 4, the ice is still 24 inches thick," said Strang.
In St. Clements, four homes were sandbagged Wednesday in the Bridgeview neighbourhood.
"We’re looking at doing probably five more," said Strang.
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