August 12, 2020

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Dozens of roads flooded in southwestern Manitoba

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 1/4/2017 (1229 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

A rapid spring melt has unexpectedly spurred overland flooding in southwestern Manitoba.

By Friday afternoon, 35 roads and as many as six rural properties were compromised by rising water, which has overtaken roads and filled culverts.

A local state of emergency was declared Thursday evening.

"It all seemed to, as it often does, happen very quickly," said Debbie McMechan of the Municipality of Two Borders. "We were getting these reports coming in steadily."

On Thursday afternoon, McMechan began fielding phone calls from ratepayers worried of rising water. Within hours, the situation became dire. Farm owners expressed concern water was approaching their livestock, and a hog barn southeast of Melita was at risk of losing road access.

McMechan was surprised how quickly the thawing became a problem.

"It’s not that often that the snow melt has such dramatic consequences," McMechan said. "We did have a lot of snow this year certainly, but everything was melting so nicely for awhile that it really seemed like it was kind of gently going to go away."

A day into the municipality’s state of emergency, none of the 35 closed roads were cut, but small diversions were forged in some gravel routes to alleviate water pressure.

She said the flooding is a widespread issue, affecting many areas of the municipality.

"I just hope that our ratepayers can hang in there with us, and continue to call in their problems," McMechan said.

The province’s most southwestern municipality is no stranger to the effects of flooding.

In 2014, water breached roads and ripped culverts, damaging 56 municipal-owned bridges in the area now known as Two Borders.

In a flood bulletin released Friday afternoon, the province warned of overland flooding near Waskada and Deloraine.

The flow on the Souris River was beginning to increase, the province said. Water levels are high in Pipestone Creek, where the flow may be ice-affected. An ice jam in Cromer affected power in the community.

In the Assiniboine River Basin, the Shellmouth Reservoir has been drawn down. Outflows from the dam (increased Thursday evening to 1,000 cubic feet per second) are set to match the reservoir’s inflows, now measured at 1,356 cfs.

The province has positioned its flood-fighting gear, such as pumps, steamers and backhoes, mainly in the western region.

A combination of the rapid melt, ice jamming and blocked culverts have led to a quick rise in water levels on tributaries, the province said.

Above-average temperatures across southern Manitoba are responsible for speeding up the melt, resulting in run-off. On Friday, the province began operating the Portage Diversion and Red River Floodway.

ifroese@brandonsun.com

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