Steinbach flooded by sudden storm

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STEINBACH -- Clement Laverdiere has worked in severe weather in 48 countries, but he has only driven in a flash flood as intense as the one that struck Steinbach Wednesday once before -- in Russia.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/07/2012 (3845 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

STEINBACH — Clement Laverdiere has worked in severe weather in 48 countries, but he has only driven in a flash flood as intense as the one that struck Steinbach Wednesday once before — in Russia.

“The road was missing,” he recalled. More precisely, the road was still there but the machinist couldn’t see it.

“A gravel truck drove by and left three or four cars under his wave,” including Laverdiere’s swamped Dodge Avenger.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS A City of Steinbach crew opens a drain after heavy rains Wednesday morning.

Seventy-six millimetres of rain hit Steinbach in an hour, overwhelming the city’s pumping stations and flooding major roads and a few basements.

“It rained a lot,” said Steinbach Mayor Chris Goertzen. “Every system was tested to capacity.”

Flood-mitigation efforts taken after the flood of 2002 — when 15 centimetres of rain fell in two hours — prevented the deluge from causing major damage, said Goertzen.

The alarm went off at one of Steinbach’s pumping stations at 4:30 Wednesday morning, said city waterworks lead hand, Andy Froese.

“There was too much water coming too fast,” he said.

Up to 111 millimetres of rain — 4.37 inches — was reported overnight in Steinbach, said Natalie Hasell, a warning-preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada.

Steinbach’s deep dousing happened without warning.

“If you looked at satellite imagery, you wouldn’t be able to describe it as anything significant,” Hasell said. It didn’t look like anything major on the radar either, she added.

“We didn’t hear about it until after it happened.”

Environment Canada had been tracking a large low-pressure system over the Prairies for several days, she said. The slow-moving system was producing thunderstorms to the north, south and east “but just this little cloud developed.” Still, Steinbach got soaked. There was no thunder or lightning “but it had enough of a convective element to produce these really significant rainfall rates.”

Motorists in cars travelling down Brandt Street stalled in water almost up to their windows, while large trucks barrelled by, swamping those left in their wake. Dan Charette of La Broquerie was on his way to work when his 2005 Mazda was inundated.

“Big trucks were barrelling past,” he said, after pushing his car out of the water on Brandt Street. “That’s just ignorant.” He bailed out his stalled car with an empty Tim Hortons cup.

“It’s going to be a writeoff,” Charette said, waiting for a tow truck after notifying work he’d be late. He heard he was not alone.

“A lot of people didn’t show up.”

One person who did show up for work with his tow truck was Marty Rempel. By 9 a.m. the Steinbach Towing/CAA driver had towed up to 23 cars, a record for this time of year, he said.

“They’re all flooded, and they’ll need work.”

Laverdiere had one piece of consolation as he stood outside his vehicle — the new Dodge Avenger that was swamped, stalled and soaking.

“It was a rental.”

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

Who you gonna call if you see a storm?

WEDNESDAY’S heavy rain in Steinbach didn’t look like much on radar or satellite imagery, but caused havoc for many morning commuters.

If you see a storm, let Environment Canada know and they can track it and provide a heads-up to folks in the area where it’s headed.

Call 1-800-239-0484 or email storm@ec.gc.ca .

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Legislature reporter

After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.

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