Flood Fight

Flood changed face of Brandon parks, facilities

By Jillian Austin 4 minute read Thursday, Aug. 14, 2014

BRANDON -- The flood of 2014 is being called a "game-changer" for the Riverbank Discovery Centre and surrounding park areas.

Eleanor Kidd Park is still under water, the pedestrian bridge is not accessible and the property around the Discovery Centre continues to shrink due to riverbank erosion.

"We need to re-evaluate what our focus is... what we are actually able to rebuild and what needs to just be remediated," said Lois MacDonald, manager of Brandon Riverbank Inc.

"I think we need to take flood-of-record-type of damage into account going forward, because who knows? Maybe this will never happen again, but twice in three years? It requires... a sober second thought as to how we move forward overall."

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Lake drains a complex project, says Ashton

By Larry Kusch 3 minute read Preview

Lake drains a complex project, says Ashton

By Larry Kusch 3 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2014

A provincial cabinet minister questioned whether Opposition Leader Brian Pallister knows what it takes to build a major infrastructure project after the Tory boss repeated assertions two large lake drains could be built in three years.

Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton maintained Tuesday the province is moving full speed ahead with a new permanent outlet for Lake Manitoba and making an emergency outlet for Lake St. Martin permanent. The estimated price tag for the combined project is $300 million.

Pallister and Conservative MLA Shannon Martin accused the government Tuesday of failing to make the outlets a sufficient priority and using the federal environmental approval process as an excuse for not moving more quickly. The province has estimated the outlets will be completed by 2020.

"We believe that this project can be completed in three years, not seven, three," Pallister told reporters Tuesday. "This project cannot be allowed to sit for seven years while we give in to red tape."

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Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2014

KEN GIGLIOTTI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
'This project cannot be allowed to sit for seven years while we give in to red tape' - Brian Pallister

NDP faces tough choices

editorial 4 minute read Preview

NDP faces tough choices

editorial 4 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2014

Manitoba Finance Minister Jennifer Howard says the cost of fighting this summer's flood could undermine the government's fiscal situation, particularly its plan to meet its deficit target next year and ultimately to balance the budget by 2016.

This sounds strangely familiar to her warning last December that the government might not balance the books because Statistics Canada had allegedly underestimated the number of people living in Manitoba by 18,000. The miscalculation, Ms. Howard said, could cost the government $100 million a year in lost transfer payments.

During the 2011 election, Premier Greg Selinger said the province was on track to return the budget to balance by 2014 while "protecting jobs and services, without raising taxes."

Since then, taxes were raised twice, as was the deadline for a balanced budget.

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Wednesday, Jul. 30, 2014

DALE CUMMINGS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Files

New weather stations in works

By Larry Kusch and Oliver Sachgau 4 minute read Preview

New weather stations in works

By Larry Kusch and Oliver Sachgau 4 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014

Following a second major Assiniboine River flood in just over three years, the province has announced it will purchase dozens of new automated weather stations to boost its flood-predicting capabilities.

The new weather stations were recommended more than a year ago by a panel reviewing the government's response to the 2011 flood. They're expected to cost more than $1 million in total, and a government official said Monday they're just being tendered now.

That's got the Opposition Progressive Conservatives wondering what's taken the Selinger government so long.

"This is not a complicated purchase," said Shannon Martin, the party's conservation and water stewardship critic.

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Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014

Tim Smith / Brandon Sun files
Flooding in Brandon this summer. New weather stations will not only help flood forecasting but also offer vital data to farmers.

Flood swamps ability to be fierce deficit-slayer

Dan Lett 5 minute read Preview

Flood swamps ability to be fierce deficit-slayer

Dan Lett 5 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014

Between a rock and a hard place is bad enough. Add rising river waters, and you have an idea where Manitoba Finance Minister Jennifer Howard is stuck these days.

Howard entered this summer with reason to believe the 2014-15 fiscal year would be a good one. Spring flooding was nearly non-existent, the economy was expected to grow steadily, if modestly, and the stubborn budget deficit her government has carried for five years would start to shrink.

All that may have been undone in large part by summer rains in Saskatchewan and western Manitoba that overwhelmed the Assiniboine River and the tributaries and lakes it feeds.

The province has roughly estimated costs from this flood could exceed $200 million, with most of that un-budgeted in the current fiscal year. And there are more costs on the way.

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Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014

Jennifer Howard

Hypocrisy on water diversion

By Scott Forbes 6 minute read Preview

Hypocrisy on water diversion

By Scott Forbes 6 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014

If the Portage Diversion were to be proposed today, it would likely not survive an environmental review. Beyond the catastrophic effects on people living around Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin, there are profound ecological consequences. Moving large amounts of water from one watershed to another, as we do with the Portage Diversion, makes these worse.

The Province of Manitoba kicked and screamed when North Dakota proposed to divert floodwaters from Devils Lake into the Sheyenne River, water that ultimately reaches Lake Winnipeg. It was literally a trickle, initially just 100 cubic feet per second, later 600 cfs.

Manitoba's objections were twofold: The water quality was poor, and foreign biota would cross from one watershed to another. The tiny amount of water involved means that the water-quality concerns were small. And when Devils Lake floods, it and its biota overflow naturally into the Sheyenne River. It has done that twice in the last 4,000 years.

The irony is what we objected to in North Dakota, we do routinely in our own backyard. Most years we divert the flow of a major river system, the Assiniboine, into another watershed, Lake Manitoba. That water adds tons of phosphorus to Lake Manitoba, fuelling algal growth and eutrophication. And it is not a trickle of 600 cfs as in North Dakota, but up to 35,000 cfs hurtling down the Portage Diversion.

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Tuesday, Jul. 29, 2014

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Files
Area farmers check out flooding north of Highway 227 on the west side of the Portage Diversion in 2011.

Diversion endangers Lake Manitoba’s future

By Scott Forbes 5 minute read Preview

Diversion endangers Lake Manitoba’s future

By Scott Forbes 5 minute read Monday, Jul. 28, 2014

Two floods in the last four years have been devastating for the farmers, ranchers, First Nations, cottagers, and permanent residents around Lake Manitoba. The floods have also wrought ecological disaster. A brown ribbon of death now surrounds the water's edge where floodwaters destroyed the lakeside forest. And now we are killing the lake itself.

If we continue to routinely divert a major river system -- the Assiniboine -- from one watershed to another and continue to overload a lake ripe for eutrophication with phosphorus, we risk turning Lake Manitoba into the world's largest bowl of toxic blue-green Jell-O.

Lake Manitoba is the world's 33rd-largest freshwater lake. It is exceedingly shallow with an average depth of just 4.5 metres. It is effectively the world's largest pond. Like most ponds, it warms quickly in summer and is biologically productive. It is now too productive.

Eutrophication occurs when a lake is overloaded with nutrients, especially phosphorus and nitrogen. In freshwater lakes, the key limiting nutrient is usually phosphorus. The most obvious results are blooms of blue-green algae (actually cyanobacteria). The spectacular blooms on Lake Winnipeg, ones that can be seen from space, earned it the dubious title of the most threatened lake in the world.

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Monday, Jul. 28, 2014

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Files
Whenever the Portage Diversion is opened, tonnes of phosphorus are dumped into Lake Manitoba.

Hope in short supply around Lake Manitoba

By Scott Forbes 5 minute read Preview

Hope in short supply around Lake Manitoba

By Scott Forbes 5 minute read Monday, Jul. 21, 2014

When I took my younger son to the doctor's office for his first vaccination, he was happy and unconcerned. When the doctor jabbed him with the needle, he turned to us with a pained look on his face, but didn't cry. However, on the next visit, he started howling as soon as he saw the door to the doctor's office and did not stop crying until we left. The second time, he knew what was coming.

During the flood of 2011 on Lake Manitoba, no one knew what was coming. While the province did an admirable job of responding to flooding along the Assiniboine River, averting major damage there, such was not the case on Lake Manitoba.

The flood defences effective on river floods failed almost immediately in the face of the rising lake waters. The result was the greatest flood disaster in Manitoba's history. The dollar cost of the flood soared well over a billion dollars, dwarfing the cost of the 1997 Red River flood and even the 1950 Winnipeg flood.

In a recent blog post, Free Press reporter Bruce Owen opined Lake Manitobans were crying wolf this year, that the flood of 2014 is nowhere near as bad as the 2011 flood. So why should anyone listen to the flood victims any more?

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Monday, Jul. 21, 2014

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES
Water laps the shore along Twin Lakes Beach on Lake Manitoba earlier this month.

Flood recovery initiatives need better oversight

By Deveryn Ross 4 minute read Preview

Flood recovery initiatives need better oversight

By Deveryn Ross 4 minute read Friday, Jul. 18, 2014

BRANDON -- As the three levels of government prepare to write cheques totalling hundreds of millions of dollars to cover damages suffered during this summer's flooding, they would be wise to first consider lessons that should have been learned after the 2011 flood.

In the months following that flood, there were numerous allegations of evacuees who chose to live in hotels and receive other subsidies and "reimbursements" despite the fact that they had other places to stay and did not need the money. In some cases, the evacuees weren't evacuees at all -- they didn't actually reside in the evacuated area.

Other Manitobans claimed they had been encouraged to submit disaster relief claims for damages that had nothing to do with the flooding.

Finally, business owners questioned large payments made under various recovery programs, including the Selinger government's Excess Moisture Economic Stimulus Program, which was intended to "help restore economic activity to pre-flood levels or strengthen and diversify economic activity."

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Friday, Jul. 18, 2014

CP
Lefteris Pitarakis / The Associated Press
A Palestinian boy walks past the damaged wall of a house following an Israeli missile attack Tuesday in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip.

Deal for a new Lake St. Martin

By Alexandra Paul 5 minute read Preview

Deal for a new Lake St. Martin

By Alexandra Paul 5 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2014

Lake St. Martin First Nation may finally have a deal to get members home again.

Chief Adrian Sinclair confirmed he and the council of his First Nation signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) Monday with the federal and provincial governments for a settlement package.

The deal is worth hundreds of millions of dollars in land and infrastructure, in a proposal to be cost-shared 50/50 between the federal and provincial governments, he said.

"It's a whole new community, a brand-new community, and it would put Lake St. Martin on the map," Sinclair said.

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Wednesday, Jul. 16, 2014

PHOTOS BY Mike Deal / Winnipeg Free Press FILES
Lake St. Martin First Nation Chief Adrian Sinclair is cautiously optimistic about a new townsite.

Waves erode shore, merchants’ hopes

By Adam Wazny 4 minute read Preview

Waves erode shore, merchants’ hopes

By Adam Wazny 4 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014

WINNIPEG BEACH -- "It's like an ocean right now, only I'm not in Hawaii."

Judy Werier took a stroll down the boardwalk at Winnipeg Beach, looking at the huge waves on Lake Winnipeg Monday morning. Besides the thunderous roar of the waves on Manitoba's largest lake, there was a lot of water where her beloved childhood beach used to be.

"I've been coming here my whole life and I've never seen the water splash over onto the boardwalk like this," the Winnipeg Beach resident said as the strong north wind kicked up cool mist in her face. "We have a cottage on the lake and we are starting to get a little worried, as well. The water and wind are really damaging the shoreline.

"The roar (of the waves) is so loud. This is an ocean -- this is not a lake."

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Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014

Ken Gigliotti / Winnipeg Free Press
Freya Croatto (left) and Alana Hing take pictures of crashing waves that flooded most of Winnipeg Beach.

Province keeps eye on high lake levels

2 minute read Preview

Province keeps eye on high lake levels

2 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014

LAKE Winnipeg has risen to its third-highest level since Manitoba Hydro began regulating the province's largest body of water in 1976.

On Monday, Lake Winnipeg sat at a wind-eliminated level of 716.13 feet above sea level, or 1.13 feet above the upper limit of Manitoba Hydro's recommended operating range for the lake.

Lake Winnipeg was slightly higher than it is now during the summer flood of 2006 and rose to 717 feet above sea level in July 2011 after both the Red and Assiniboine rivers had significant flooding.

Lake Winnipeg reached its highest recorded level in 1974, when it rose above 718 feet. Significant flooding occurred in both Winnipeg Beach and Gimli that year.

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Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014

LAKE Winnipeg has risen to its third-highest level since Manitoba Hydro began regulating the province's largest body of water in 1976.

On Monday, Lake Winnipeg sat at a wind-eliminated level of 716.13 feet above sea level, or 1.13 feet above the upper limit of Manitoba Hydro's recommended operating range for the lake.

Lake Winnipeg was slightly higher than it is now during the summer flood of 2006 and rose to 717 feet above sea level in July 2011 after both the Red and Assiniboine rivers had significant flooding.

Lake Winnipeg reached its highest recorded level in 1974, when it rose above 718 feet. Significant flooding occurred in both Winnipeg Beach and Gimli that year.

Pump system could sort water woes on Lake Manitoba

By Scott Forbes 5 minute read Preview

Pump system could sort water woes on Lake Manitoba

By Scott Forbes 5 minute read Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014

The Edmonston pumping station in southern California is an engineering marvel. It is part of the California aqueduct system that gathers water from the northern half of the state and delivers it to thirsty millions in the south. It pumps 4,400 cubic feet of water per second. That is not remarkable. What is remarkable is that it lifts this water 600 metres over the Tehachapi Mountains.

The current flood on Lake Manitoba has arisen because too much water is entering the lake with too little of it leaving. The Portage Diversion has redirected most of the flow from one watershed, the Assiniboine River, to another, Lake Manitoba. The predicable result is a second flood in four years. Even under the best case, the lake will spend months at flood level and fall gradually during the winter. It will be high next spring and poised to flood again.

The provincial government claims the emergency channel on Lake St. Martin is a solution to this flood problem. It is not. It is a solution to flooding on Lake St. Martin, which is useful and needed.

The only near-term solution to the problem of continued flooding on Lake Manitoba is a new outlet. There are substantial engineering challenges, not the least being the slight elevation changes on the landscape. We are, after all, on the Prairies. A major problem on Lake Manitoba is that outflow falls sharply with lake level.

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Tuesday, Jul. 15, 2014

The Edmonston pumping station in southern California is an engineering marvel. It is part of the California aqueduct system that gathers water from the northern half of the state and delivers it to thirsty millions in the south. It pumps 4,400 cubic feet of water per second. That is not remarkable. What is remarkable is that it lifts this water 600 metres over the Tehachapi Mountains.

The current flood on Lake Manitoba has arisen because too much water is entering the lake with too little of it leaving. The Portage Diversion has redirected most of the flow from one watershed, the Assiniboine River, to another, Lake Manitoba. The predicable result is a second flood in four years. Even under the best case, the lake will spend months at flood level and fall gradually during the winter. It will be high next spring and poised to flood again.

The provincial government claims the emergency channel on Lake St. Martin is a solution to this flood problem. It is not. It is a solution to flooding on Lake St. Martin, which is useful and needed.

The only near-term solution to the problem of continued flooding on Lake Manitoba is a new outlet. There are substantial engineering challenges, not the least being the slight elevation changes on the landscape. We are, after all, on the Prairies. A major problem on Lake Manitoba is that outflow falls sharply with lake level.

Delta Beach residents stare down winds amid high water

By Alexandra Paul 4 minute read Preview

Delta Beach residents stare down winds amid high water

By Alexandra Paul 4 minute read Monday, Jul. 14, 2014

Winds wreaked havoc over the weekend through parts of the province, but residents along the shore of Lake Manitoba remained stoic.

They were worried about the wind, but no more than usual. It's something they've seen before and will see again, said Kam Blight, reeve of the RM of Portage la Prairie, which includes Delta Beach.

Blight said he was out on the lake at Delta Sunday evening and everything was holding steady.

"Everything seemed to be OK. There's definitely higher winds and waves, but so far everything is fine out at Delta (Beach)," Blight said.

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Monday, Jul. 14, 2014

Tim Smith / Brandon Sun
Water from the Assiniboine River covers farmland bordering Brandon's Grand Valley Road on Sunday afternoon.

Better than a bird’s-eye view of the flood

2 minute read Preview

Better than a bird’s-eye view of the flood

2 minute read Friday, Jul. 11, 2014

The full extent of the river’s wrath is hard to grasp from a dike, a sandbagging line or the altitude of a helicopter.

But in this close-up, eye-in-the-sky video from a camera-carrying drone, the flood comes into focus in a way we’ve never before seen.

This drone’s-eye view of jetskis blasting across what should be fields of canola, farmsteads becoming islands and the murky churn of the Assiniboine River as it swallows all that’s in reach provides a new and startling perspective of Manitoba’s surprise summer flood.

 Three things a drone reveals about the flood:

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Friday, Jul. 11, 2014

supplied drone footage
The flooded Assiniboine River at Provincial Road 242 southwest of Portage la Prairie. The problem for farmers this year are both seeded and unseeded land.

Dikes hold during Assiniboine River crest

By Bruce Owen 2 minute read Preview

Dikes hold during Assiniboine River crest

By Bruce Owen 2 minute read Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

The worst of this summer’s flooding is passing down the Assiniboine River with a cautious optimism settling in — for now.

At a noon briefing, provincial officials said the crest on the Assiniboine River at the Portage Reservoir crested at midnight last night at 52,100 cubic feet per second (cfs).

Flows on the Portage Diversion are about 34,100 cfs and the flow on the Assiniboine River downstream of the diversion is 18,000 cfs. Flows on the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Headingley are expected to stay at about 18,000 cfs for several days with a new forecast for a second crest at the Portage Reservoir calling for a peak flow between 46,000 and 47,500 cfs July 14 to 16.

Only one section of dike west of St. Francois Xavier showed signs overnight of minor seepage, which was picked up by a Canadian Forces Aurora surveillance aircraft. Work to shore up the dike started this morning.

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Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Heavy rains in western Manitoba and Saskatchewan recently have raised the level of the Assiniboine River, causing it to overflow its banks, flooding roads and farmers' fields. Aerial photo of bridge over the Portage diversion dam just west of town where water is diverted north to Lake Manitoba.

St. Francois Xavier prepares for river flooding

Staff 1 minute read Preview

St. Francois Xavier prepares for river flooding

Staff 1 minute read Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

(First photo) Volunteers, including a busload of provincial government employees, Manitoba Conservation forest firefighters from northern and eastern Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro staff, and members of the Second Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and 17 Wing Winnipeg, work together to sandbag in St. Francois Xavier on July 8. They moved eastward to build and reinforce dikes at the riverside homes on the south side of Highway 26.(Second photo) Members of CFB Shilo joined local volunteers in directing sandbagging efforts at the Emergency Operations Centre set up in the  St. Francois Xavier municipal office.

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Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

Andrea Geary

Flood fears easing in southern Manitoba

The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

Flood fears easing in southern Manitoba

The Canadian Press 3 minute read Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

WINNIPEG - Flood fears were easing in much of southern Manitoba Thursday, as the Assiniboine River started to subside near Portage la Prairie.

"We have hit crest, the waters are declining. The good news really is the degree to which the preparation certainly is paying off," the province's Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton said six days after the province declared a state of emergency and called in the military.

Since last Friday, hundreds of thousands of sandbags have been placed around homes. Dikes and riverbanks were reinforced and monitored with high-tech surveillance equipment. Across the province, more than 700 people were forced out of their homes — the vast majority as a precaution due to the possibility their local roads might be washed out.

As the river crested near Portage overnight, both the Assiniboine River and the Portage diversion, a channel that diverts excess water from the river to Lake Manitoba, were near capacity. A small leak in a bank on the Assiniboine was detected and fixed, but other than that, the defences held. Evacuation orders in Delta Beach north of Portage la Prairie were lifted Thursday morning.

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Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

The swollen Assiniboine River covers farmland near Brandon, Man. on Sunday, July 6, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Tim Smith

Farm groups urge long-term solution to floods

Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Preview

Farm groups urge long-term solution to floods

Jennifer Graham, The Canadian Press 3 minute read Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

REGINA - Farm groups say Manitoba, Saskatchewan and neighbouring U.S. states need to work together on a long-term solution to flooding.

Doug Chorney, with Keystone Agricultural Producers, said it's one thing if a farmer has to deal with too much water on his land, but the problem is worse if water is also coming from 100 farms upstream.

Chorney suggests there should be more structures built to store water and points to work being done by the Red River Basin Commission in North Dakota.

"It's deliberate storage of water to not only protect local residents, but also reduce the flow of water during peak floods at the Canadian border by 20 per cent," Chorney said from Brandon, where members of Manitoba's Keystone group met Thursday to talk about the recent flooding.

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Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

REGINA - Farm groups say Manitoba, Saskatchewan and neighbouring U.S. states need to work together on a long-term solution to flooding.

Doug Chorney, with Keystone Agricultural Producers, said it's one thing if a farmer has to deal with too much water on his land, but the problem is worse if water is also coming from 100 farms upstream.

Chorney suggests there should be more structures built to store water and points to work being done by the Red River Basin Commission in North Dakota.

"It's deliberate storage of water to not only protect local residents, but also reduce the flow of water during peak floods at the Canadian border by 20 per cent," Chorney said from Brandon, where members of Manitoba's Keystone group met Thursday to talk about the recent flooding.

Politics in the flood zone

Bruce Owen 2 minute read Preview

Politics in the flood zone

Bruce Owen 2 minute read Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

It's a lesson for any politician who wants to stick their neck out and be seen in the flood zone.

There's a good way to do it and a bad way to do it.

First the good.

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Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

Damned if you do and damned if you don't.

It's a lesson for any politician who wants to stick their neck out and be seen in the flood zone.

There's a good way to do it and a bad way to do it.

First the good.

Living in isolation

Mary Agnes Welch 5 minute read Preview

Living in isolation

Mary Agnes Welch 5 minute read Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

SHOAL LAKE 40 FIRST NATION — The first time Linda Redsky fell through the ice, she was heading back to her island reserve after a day in Kenora.

“I remember being under the water because it was a really clear night, and I could see the ice floating around above me, and I could see the stars,” she said. “I kept grabbing at the ice but it just kept breaking.”

Redsky’s husband, who’d gone to town with her, lay down across the ice, shimmied out to the hole and hauled her out. Then the two crawled the rest of the way to the shores of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation.

“By the time we got there, our hair was just frozen, our clothes were just frozen,” said Redsky.

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Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

Ruth Bonneville / Winnipeg Free Press
A fishing boat arrives at the docks of Shoal Lake 40 First Nation Wednesdasy bringing government officials and dignitaries to their manmade island marking the 100th anniversary for the flooding of their land to provide water for the City of Winnipeg.

Final push before flood crest

By Ashley Prest 4 minute read Preview

Final push before flood crest

By Ashley Prest 4 minute read Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

RM OF ST. FRANÇOIS XAVIER -- The first thing Patrizia Moxon thought when she got home from work Tuesday night was: Oh my god, we're doing this again.

By early Wednesday afternoon there were nearly 100 Province of Manitoba workers, Canadian Forces personnel and other volunteers filling sandbags and using them to build a dike around her house.

Trucks from B-Sharp Excavating and other contractors delivered sand and supplied a skid steer loader. The RM of St. François Xavier contributed supplies and volunteers.

"I feel awesome, happy that they're helping me out. They're awesome and big kudos to them... all the volunteers, it's been incredible to see how fast they get things done," Moxon said.

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Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Manitoba government employees and other volunteers were busy slinging sandbags at a home west of St. Francois Xavier Wednesday.

Flooding fears begin to fall

By Bruce Owen and Ashley Prest 4 minute read Preview

Flooding fears begin to fall

By Bruce Owen and Ashley Prest 4 minute read Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

Though the official announcements said the worst of the flooding in Manitoba was over, people on the ground remained wary late Wednesday.

Jodie Gale, who has helped co-ordinate volunteers protecting homes in the RM of St. François Xavier, said she's expecting the water near her to rise into the night and crest this morning.

Gale said the last few days -- and nights -- have been hectic as volunteers sandbagged houses and tried to protect everybody who was threatened by the rising waters.

"My days and nights are getting all rattled together. It's been a few (sleepless nights)," Gale said.

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Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

Premier Greg Selinger and RM of Portage la Prairie Reeve Kam Blight tour the control structure.

Mulcair miffed Tories nix flood tour

By Larry Kusch 3 minute read Preview

Mulcair miffed Tories nix flood tour

By Larry Kusch 3 minute read Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

Federal NDP Leader Tom Mulcair has accused the Harper government of playing petty politics with the Manitoba flood and ignoring the underlying causes of such weather-related events.

The Opposition leader criticized Defence Minister Rob Nicholson Wednesday, for preventing him from getting a close-up view of the flood fight near Portage la Prairie.

A spokeswoman for Nicholson told The Canadian Press the government cancelled tours for the time being so troops could focus their efforts on keeping Manitobans safe. The Assiniboine River was expected to crest near Portage Wednesday evening.

At a news conference at The Forks, Mulcair rejected the government's explanation, noting Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited Brandon Sunday while the river was cresting there.

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Thursday, Jul. 10, 2014

Phil Hossack / Winnipeg Free Press
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair's flood tour was vetoed at the last minute.

RCMP advise against visiting Portage Diversion

1 minute read Preview

RCMP advise against visiting Portage Diversion

1 minute read Wednesday, Jul. 9, 2014

RCMP are asking the public to stay away from the Portage Diversion.

In a release, RCMP said they have been encountering people, particularly on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Portage la Prairie, who have been stopping their vehicles to take photos of the diversion. Those people are creating hazards for traffic and emergency crews working in the area, the release stated.

The public has also been cautioned not to exit their vehicles in the area, and to slow down while driving, as reduced speed limits have been posted.

The Portage Diversion has been operating at nearly full capacity over the last few days, channeling water out of the Assiniboine River and into Lake Manitoba in an attempt to lessen the impact of flooding in the area.

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Wednesday, Jul. 9, 2014

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
Heavy rains in western Manitoba and Saskatchewan recently have raised the level of the Assiniboine River, causing it to overflow its banks, flooding roads and farmers' fields. Aerial photo of bridge over the Portage diversion dam just west of town where water is diverted north to Lake Manitoba.

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