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This article was published 29/3/2009 (4113 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Unseasonably cool weather is buying flood fighters time by slowing down runoff and rivers as well as freezing drainage ditches.
On Sunday, armies of volunteers filled and erected sandbag dikes while one large ice jam remained in place from Lockport to just south of Selkirk.
The latest provincial flood update Sunday said the jam was not expected to move until the Red River flow increases or much milder weather develops. The forecast shows little change in the level of the Red River from Ste. Agathe north to Selkirk.
Environment Canada called for continued cool weather through to the weekend, with highs hovering just above freezing and a 60 per cent chance of snow Wednesday and Thursday.
Ice jams aren't just a problem for residents along the Red River. West of Winnipeg, an ice jam on a creek that flows into the Assiniboine River prompted the evacuation Sunday of 28 homes on the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. A provincial spokesman said the evacuation of the community of 2,400 was a precautionary measure, and that no homes had been flooded. Residents of the First Nation 261 kilometres west of Winnipeg were taken to Virden, the spokesman said.
The province announced Sunday that the Portage Diversion, which directs water from the Assiniboine River to Lake Manitoba, commenced operation on the weekend. The river crested at Brandon and a minor crest is expected at Headingley in the coming days, with levels remaining within the river's banks. The arrival of the crest depends on how quickly the snow melts.
CITY crews started visiting 80 homes Sunday to re-survey existing sandbag dikes and kick-start the construction of new ones. Winnipeg's flood officials said that ice jams inside city limits are a real possibility and could damage low-lying homes. Owners of about 50 homes that have already been sandbagged are being asked to add another foot onto their dikes, and about 30 more homeowners were told they'll need to build dikes.
Officials were on Scotia Street Sunday marking new dike heights. They were scheduled to go to homes on Cloutier Drive, Christie Road, and Turnbull Drive.
Meanwhile, volunteers were still needed at the La Salle Hotel on Nairn Avenue, which requires a monster dike before flood waters rise. The iconic LaSalle Hotel is calling for volunteers.
"The water rose about two feet last night," a hotel employee said Sunday.
About 20 people were sandbagging behind the hotel perched on the Red River Sunday afternoon, and about three times as many are needed, he said.
Volunteers are asked to show up, or call the hotel at 668-5367.
THE RM of St. Andrews has added excavators to its flood-fighting arsenal, Mayor Cliff Dearman said. The recent dump of snow followed by a cold snap created six- to eight-inch-thick ice jams in ditches and culverts.
The biggest worry for the community --that was threatened last week by a massive ice jam on the Red River -- remained several small jams in drainage ditches causing overland flooding.
"We're pumping ditches, we've got excavators in the ditches and steamers," he said.
AFTER the community faced a flooding nightmare, the cold weather gave the RM of St. Clements a chance to take a breath and batten down the hatches.
"The battle's going quite well," said emergency services co-ordinator Jim Stinson. "Quite a few residents have built dikes in preparation, firefighters in Selkirk are making sandbags, East Selkirk firefighters are doing an ice-watch," to notify affected communities immediately, he said. He said both ice-breaking Amphibex machines are in the vicinity of Sugar Island and working towards Selkirk Park.
MUNICIPALITIES everywhere are bracing for a torrent of flood waters when things thaw.
"The thing that still worries me is the 150 frozen culverts we have right now and if it melts quick," RM of Tache councillor Bob Koop said. The municipality includes the communities of Lorette and Landmark that have been battling overland flooding.
Like many neighbouring municipalities, Tache is trying to thaw and clear as many ice-clogged culverts as it can before temperatures rise this week. "We're on pins and needles," Koop said.
Several Winnipeg-based CBC TV reporters covering the flood in Fargo suffered eye injuries and have returned to Winnipeg.
"Nobody's seriously injured," said Cec Rosner, managing editor of CBC Manitoba. Rosner declined to comment further.
Unconfirmed reports said three CBC reporters were doing on-camera stand-ups at night looking into the glare of the lights that were supposed to be filtered.
"I'm on the mend," CBC reporter Alex Freedman said Sunday. Freedman had been in Fargo covering the flood with national news reporter Marisa Dragani. He would not confirm if she was also injured.
Dameon Wall, acting president of the Media Guild, which represents CBC employees, couldn't say whether the three reporters returned to Winnipeg because of their sore eyes or because it was part of a regular work rotation.
ART Klan, deputy mayor of Emerson, said he's confident the town will stay dry because there's a dike around the community.
The high water is expected to cross the border and crest in Emerson in early April, though the province said Sunday it's reviewing that forecast to determine the effect of an extended cold snap. "At the worst, with the information we have today, is (the water will be) two feet below the top of the dike," Klan said.
-- Staff, with files from The Canadian Press
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