Red River is starting to recede, but more than 2,000 of evacuees still displaced by Manitoba flood
While the Red River is starting to recede in southern Manitoba, flood waters linger in communities and more than 2,000 people are still displaced.
Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson, along with other officials with the province, took an aerial tour Sunday to view the impact the flooding has had on communities from a birds’ eye view.
“I think what we can see certainly is that the river is starting to recede down in the Emerson area and I think we are looking at cresting in St. Adolph today,” Stefanson told reporters after her flight.
The province confirmed the Red River peaked at Ste. Agathe, St. Adolphe and the Red River Floodway inlet on May 13. While it is stable or declining upstream of Winnipeg, the river is still expected to remain high likely into June.
However, the province said flooding continues in parts of the Interlake, Red River Valley and central and southern Manitoba. The flood waters have washed out many roads in the Parkland region.
Wab Kinew, leader of Manitoba’s opposition party, was invited on the flight and said his thoughts and support are with those suffering from the flood.
“We saw homes, we saw communities impacted. We’ve seen the communities that have been evacuated in some cases, others that look like islands in the midst of a lake that normally would be the Red River,” Kinew said.
Stefanson said the ring dikes preventing flooding in communities, however she said there is a lot of water covering farmlands and everything else in the southern Manitoba.
MORE THAN 2,000 EVACUEES REMAIN DISPLACED, HOMES DAMAGED
Johanu Botha, the head of Manitoba’s Emergency Management Organization, said there are currently 446 people evacuated from municipalities and just under 2,000 people evacuated from First Nations. The province said as of Sunday, 33 states of local emergency have been declared in Manitoba communities.
Stefanson said there will be more discussions with respect to the challenges the farmers and those displaced by floods will now face.
Michael Mourant lives just south of Winnipeg in the RM of Richot, where water from the neighbouring field has been covering the driveway to his home for several weeks.
“We use the tractor to get in and out, so we don’t have to wear rubber boots because unless you wear hip waiters, then you’ll get water in your boots,” he said.
Mourant’s home has been in the family for decades, meaning he’s experienced many floods, including the historic one in 1997. He’s since made improvements to his property, like building a concrete wall to block water.
“We did the preparation hoping we wouldn’t have to use it,” said Mourant, who also has a pile of sand and bags ready to go if needed. Mourant said the whole situation can be quite stressful.
“If you’re not living here watching it, you can have nightmares at night like my father does. He calls me and checks in every morning.”
Mourant said heavy winds earlier in the week caused foot swells from the neighbouring field.
So far, the only serious damage to the property is the driveway. Mourant will only know the extent of the erosion when the water recedes.
“I’ve been thinking the crest is gone, it’s going to start going down, but it hasn’t. It’s slowly going up, building, I imagine or hopefully levelling off right about now.
PROVINCE LOOKS TO FEDERAL GOVERNMENT FOR HELP IN PEGUIS FIRST NATION
Stefanson said waters are also starting to drop in Peguis First Nation – where flood waters forced more than 1,500 people from their homes in Manitoba’s largest First Nation community.
Peguis First Nation Chief Glenn Hudson has previously called for long-term infrastructure to help protect from future flooding the community. When asked if there will be any flood protection improvements for Peguis First Nation, Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk said there needs to be federal support.
“We are going to have to work with our federal counterparts, making sure that they lead on opportunities to look at what we can do – because we have to look at the whole region when it comes to the Peguis region,” Piwniuk said.
He said the province’s recently announced a Disaster Financial Assistance will help both individual Manitobans and communities that have been impacted by the flood. The program will provide financial assistance for certain disaster-related losses, such as uninsurable losses to basic and essential property.