Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 29/3/2009 (4124 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SELKIRK -- Homes south of Selkirk are pretty well fortified and flood fighters are now looking north as ice jams continue to threaten several rural municipalities north of Winnipeg.
"If the weather keeps up, we're doing well," St. Andrews Reeve Don Forfar said Sunday. "But the heat's off in some people's mind. The heat's not off at all."
The RM's army of volunteers finished sandbagging dozens of homes along the Red between Lower Fort Garry and Selkirk by Saturday night.
Homes north of that to Breezy Point are next on the list, Forfar said.
By mid-afternoon Sunday, hundreds of volunteers, including Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick, had converged on the St. Andrews fire hall, which has become the flood fight's headquarters.
Police were directing traffic, cars were parked all along Highway 9, and busloads of people were being dispatched to homes north of Selkirk to set up sandbagging lines.
Lena Meger got one of those busloads of people -- Hutterites, students, and average Manitobans from Winnipeg, Birds Hill and beyond.
"This makes me cry," she said, her boots half on as she came out to meet the line of baggers forming behind her.
Meger's split-level home on Breezy Point Road north of Selkirk escaped damage in 1997, but flooded in 1996 after some frantic sandbagging fell just an inch short of the rising river. That left Meger with several feet of water in her basement.
Meger has a new berm built almost around her house, but she could get caught between the floodway's extra deluge and an ice jam at the Highway 4 bridge to the north.
Her ring dike needs an extra two or three feet of elevation, which is why the sandbag crew was summoned Sunday afternoon.
Her family, including grandsons Jeff Meger and Rob McCarthy, moved all her belongings up from the basement, except for a piano and her preserves.
"She doesn't let us touch her pickles," joked Jeff Meger as dozens of volunteers laid down the first layer of bags behind him.
Jeff Meger, a master bombardier with the Canadian military based at CFB Shilo, said the flood-fighting efforts have been "leaps and bounds" better than they were in 1997, and volunteer help has been amazing.
McCarthy, who was sandbagging at his grandmother's house Sunday afternoon, said his riverfront cottage just up the road is also at risk, but he was philosophical about it.
"It's a flip of the coin. Everything is replaceable," McCarthy said. "It would take the air force to get enough sandbags there."
Though sandbagging continued in earnest Sunday, little changed on the Red River. The ice jam that deluged homes south of Lockport last week was still socked in between Lockport and Lower Fort Garry, and the river was still largely frozen solid north of Selkirk. That's where the two Amphibex ice breakers were deployed Sunday. Cold weather also gave crews time to keep thawing frozen culverts and drains in anticipation of overland flooding once the snow and ice melt.
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