Residents of several communities in southern Manitoba are being forced from their homes due to rising waters this weekend.
South of Winnipeg, in the Rural Municipality of Ritchot, 90 homes received voluntary evacuation notices as of Sunday – two more than the day before – and only 10 remained, Mayor Chris Ewen said.
He thinks most people are staying put because they’ve seen similar floods in the past, including the worst in 1997.
“We have been there. All the infrastructure is in place to ensure safety around the Saint-Adolphe area. The ring dike is in play. We now have the diversion channel so that more water can be taken So people feel a lot more comfortable staying home,” Ewen said.
“They’ve done their due diligence. They’re making sure they’re prepared for this.”
Evacuations in Morris, Dufferin
In the Rural Municipality of Morris, about 30 residences had been identified for evacuation Saturday morning, Warden Ralph Groening said.
These sites were marked because they could soon lose road access and because their residents had to leave their homes during the floods of 2009 and 2011 – which Groening said was the last time the community saw the water as high as it is currently rising.
“This is not a new exercise for many, but we have new residents, so we will work with them to make sure they stay safe and encourage relocation,” Groening told CBC. Weekend morning show guest host Keisha Paul.
Morris was one of six rural municipalities declare a local state of emergency earlier this week. But as of Saturday evening, the Rural Municipality of Dufferin was also added to this list, said Warden George Gray.
Gray said only about six families had to leave their homes in that community, but more evacuations could still happen.
“I’ve never seen the water higher and it’s rising really fast,” he said.
The area’s community hall has been set up as an emergency measures site, where people displaced by the floods can register and find accommodation and a cup of coffee, he said.
Warden Paul GIlmore of the MR de Montcalm says 40 households have been asked to evacuate and 30 have complied.
He is worried about the other 10, so the RCMP have been called in to monitor their safety.
“We remain vigilant to the situation,” he said.
Unofficial Environment Canada rainfall amounts show Sunday morning that the town of Carman, in the municipality of Dufferin, has been hit hard by recent rainfall.
It got about 58.4 millimeters. By comparison, the southeast community of Kleefeld – about 44 kilometers from Morris – got around 35.6 millimeters.
A little further south, the town of Morden had a declared boil water advisory for its public water system early Sunday afternoon after improperly treated water was allowed to enter the distribution system.
In parts of the province, rising water has caused highway closures. A full list of these closures is available on the province’s website.
The community will “take the fight together”
Groening said knowing how the community handled the 1997 Flood of the Century gives it confidence that it can respond adequately to the challenges it currently faces.
“We will fight the fight together,” he said.
“Our residents are tired. They are tired, but they are ready to react. And as we [as] council, as our public works staff, administration and emergency co-ordinator – we are ready and have plans in place to deal with what looks like another week and a half of threatened flooding.
LISTEN | The Rural Municipality of Morris declared a local state of emergency last week:
The Weekend Morning Show (Manitoba)8:25The Rural Municipality of Morris declared a local state of emergency last week
For Morris-area farmer David Hamblin, the downpours that have hit parts of southern Manitoba in recent weeks have been difficult.
Of the roughly 4,000 acres he operates, around 500 were underwater on Saturday – a number he hopes will continue to climb.
“We need the rain to stop and we need the sun to come up and there is some warmth. The most important thing is just to move the water and get it out of the fields,” said Hamblin, whose family owns Red River Seeds.
Hamblin said high water levels would mean a much later crop planting date – and a significant drop in yield expectations. With the latest flood forecast, he said he does not expect all his crops to be planted until June.
Warmer weather ahead
Despite the rain, the Rural Municipality of Morris can now have the weather on its side, Groening said.
Although the region received a lot of rain, the amount that fell was actually less than forecast – and the warmer temperatures ahead will also help.
Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Fulton said highs will approach 20 degrees – then rise above that mark with a forecast of 23 degrees in some areas for Friday.
“The storm is pretty much over,” Fulton said. “We’re actually looking at a dry week and we’re warming up – almost, I dare say, hot – with the highs.”
Fulton said recent rainfall has reached historic levels. Winnipeg saw 118 millimeters in April – the most the city has had in April since 1896, when 143 millimeters fell.
“It’s almost like a once-in-a-lifetime wet April,” he said. “It was the wettest April anyone can remember.”
As for Groening, he’s also counting on the sense of unity flood control can create to help Morris weather the rest of the flood season.
“[You have] a common enemy or you have a common threat… This allows us to develop quite a considerable concentration in order to respond to events,” he said.
“We have great residents, great staff, great people. We’re not alone in this.”
Groening said a public meeting will likely be held in the coming days to give residents a chance to ask questions about the flood response.