Water levels on rivers and lakes have crested or are near so in all parts of the province, but the impact of the 2011 flood will be felt for weeks and months to come, say those in affected areas.
Darryl Jackson, mayor of Souris, said last week that while Souris River levels have started to drop, the cleanup is just beginning. Meanwhile, the economic hit from flooding plus the heavy rainfalls will have an ongoing impact.
This is “far from over,” he said last week.
“We won’t even feel it all for some time,” Jackson said, adding that they expect the bills for Disaster Financial Assistance for repairs and cleanup in their town will likely exceed $1 million.
“We’re also a service town for our farming and ranching community and they’re devastated with the wet as well. There’s going to be economic repercussions that way.”
Souris residents had been allowed back into 20 homes last week, but residents of another 70 properties were still under evacuation orders.
Helping some 3,000 evacuees return home across the province – when their respective RMs finally give the all clear – plus massive cleanup operations, dealing with mould concerns, well restoration, future flood-proofing and rebuilding road systems are all still ahead for communities across Manitoba. As of July 16 there were about 470 municipal and provincial road closures in effect.
The July 16 provincial flood bulletin said water levels on rivers and lakes, including Lake Winnipeg, have crested in all areas of the province with the exception of Lake Manitoba, Lake Pineimuta and Lake St. Martin which are near crest. High water advisories remained in effect for all major
lakes, the Saskatchewan River and the downstream reach of the Carrot River.
Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization has also told affected communities to not remove any of the flood protection they have in place and to continue to monitor and assess their situation. Rural municipalities will ultimately make the decision about when 2,933 persons still evacuated will be able to return home.
Meanwhi le, high winds continue to pose a threat to homes and cottages on several Manitoba lakes. Water Stewardship will continue issuing daily wind alerts for Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipegosis, Dauphin Lake, Lake St. Martin, Oak Lake and the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg.
Flows on the Assiniboine River upstream of Portage la Prairie was forecast at last week’s end to start to decline by about 1,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 1,500 cfs per day with the diversion expected to remain in operation until the first week of August.
Meanwhile, a break in the weather could speed evaporation and reduce lake levels, but Lake Manitoba’s level was expected to continue to rise due to combined inflow from the Portage Diversion and the Waterhen River still exceeding the outflow through Fairford River.
Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger toured the flood-damaged south basin of Lake Manitoba last week and saw the devastated area where hundreds of cottagers, permanent residents and First Nations residents have had to flee and will not be returning until the lake freezes over.
A provincial state of emergency remains in effect to allow flood-protection efforts in the Lake St. Martin area.
The province is looking to build a new diversion from Lake St. Martin to Lake Winnipeg to drain Lake Manitoba more quickly before next spring. Recommendations on building the emergency channel could come this week.
– DARRYL JACKSON, SOURIS MAYOR