Flood Update: N.Dakota alerts eased, while Manitoba ice jams spark emergency status

Red River Flood Update – March 31,2009 – North Dakota – Manitoba

Colder weather and falling snow have actuallly eased flood conditions in much of North Dakota, with many Fargo area neighborhoods lifting evacuation orders Tuesday afternoon, March 31, 2009.

Flooding in North Dakota

Flooding in North Dakota

However, the town of Selkirk, north-east of Winnipeg and at least one other town have declared emergency conditions due to increasing ice jams on the Red River. The ice jams themselves make it difficult to predict the possibility of flooding, but many neighborhoods are sandbagging, with some being told to evacuate by authorities.

The Winnipeg spillway – built in the 60’s to divert flood waters from the river, can not be opened to ease flood waters until the risk of ice jams abates. Any sheet ice, or jams entering the spillway risks more ice jams at bridge crossings and higher flood waters within Winnipeg itself.

Volunteer Update –

The CBC published today that there are increasing reports of volunteer and emergency personnel exhaustion in towns north of Winnipeg where the ice jams are widespread. There were appeals for food to fuel the small army of residents, volunteers and front-line workers primarily involved in sandbagging around properties threatened by the ice and rising waters.

Project417 has organized several volunteer teams in the past few years to respond to disaster scenes such as Hurricanes Katrina  in 2005, Ike last fall of 2008, and most recently two large evacuations in Toronto following apartment building explosions. Additionally,  as a community development coordinator  with Project417, I took part in Ontario’s Trillium emergency exercise last November in Thunder bay, along with more than 1,500 other emergency response personnel.

For first response situations, Project417 partners exclusively with the Salvation Army Emergency and Disaster Services (EDS), headquartered in Toronto. The process in preparing to respond involves staying updated on breaking news, and reporting availability to our EDS contact. As in the current crisis in Manitoba – local and then provincial resources are called in and assigned – with local emergency response personnel, often local fire departments, designated as local command and control centres and relay requests to the media for volunteers and materials that can be quickly deployed from surrounding areas. In addition, The Manitoba Emergency Management organization (EMO) is mobilized in declared states of emergency, and have in this case also requested the federal government to deploy and make ready on stand-by Canadian Armed Forces personnel.

If the local emergency or disaster situation escalates – as may be the case this week north of Winnipeg – those organizations may begin requesting assistance from neighbouring cities and provinces across Canada. Project417 has forwarded the CBC news reports of volunteers facing exhaustion to our EDS contact to ascertain whether mobilization should be escalated. Our role normally is helping man the mobile canteens, capable of serving hot meals, nutritious snacks, coffee, hot chocolate, juices, soft drinks and water – to as many as 1,500 or more per day per canteen. So right now we are ready and just waiting for the call. It would take at least 1 1/2 – 2 days to drive the vehicles out depending on road conditions. More updates will be posted here soon and  at project417.com.

North Dakota and Minnesota Red River - photo nasa.gov

North Dakota and Minnesota Red River - photo nasa.gov

More updates and sources –

Fargo Inforum – Evacuation orders lifted in some neighborhoods

Selkirk declares state of emergency

Manitoba communities plead for volunteers and food

CBC Manitoba Flood Watch 2009

Winnipeg Free Press Flood Watch

Winnipeg Free Press Breaking News

Update: Red River Flood Watch, North Dakota, Winnipeg Manitoba

Update, Monday March 30, 2009 – Flood Watch –

Volunteer Alerts

Volunteers fill sandbags - photo CBC.ca

Volunteers fill sandbags - photo CBC.ca

North Dakota and Manitoba:

The flood watch in the Red River valley area on both sides of the U.S. Canada border continues today, but with a slight reprieve due to much colder temperatures. The sub-zero weather is slowing the runoff and freezing drainage that runs into the Red River and tributary systems and the flood crest is expected much later this week with many dikes and levees still intact. The work of residents, volunteers and thousands of National Guard and Canadian Armed Forces continues in the extra time that has resulted.

The flood watch in North Dakota has been replaced by a winter storm watch with a blizzard entering the region – which will only add to the snow and ice as melting conditions return and complicate the progress of ice jams up the river valley. Thousands still remain homeless due to flooding and evacuations ordered by authorities.

From the Winnipeg Free Press – “Ice jams aren’t just a problem for residents along the Red River. West of Winnipeg, an ice jam on a creek that flows into the Assiniboine River prompted the evacuation Sunday of 28 homes on the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. The evacuation of the community of 2,400 was a precautionary measure, and that no homes had been flooded. Residents of the First Nation 261 kilometres west of Winnipeg were taken to Virden”.

Latest Flood Watch Updates from the Red River Valley Area –

Flooding in Fargo eases but winter storm moves in

Volunteers exhausted in battle against flood

Volunteers shift sandbagging efforts north of Selkirk

Chilly Weather Stops Flood in Tracks – Winnipeg

Residents & Volunteers Step up flood fighting preparations

Watches, warning, advisories for North Dakota

Project417 is still on call for the volunteer requirements and will publish an update later this evening.

Flooding Update – North Dakota, Minnesota, Manitoba

Saturday Mar. 28th, 2009  Updates Red River Flooding

Lockport bridge, n. of Winnepeg, by Amanda Medwid

Lockport Bridge, north of Winnipeg, by Amanda Medwid

We’re concerned about the possibilities of more evacuations for our neighbors in North Dakota and Minnesota and watching updates for the flood conditions in the Winnipeg, Manitoba areas of the Red River basin – hit by the worst flood levels in many years. Project417 is on alert to be notified of volunteer requirments by the Canadian Salvation Army Emergency and Disaster Services.

North Dakota and the Fargo area are the worst hit so far, but colder weather has slowed the river’s rise with cresting expected Sunday March 29th. It is the widespead ice jams on the Red River and many others including the Missouri River and other tributaries causing the worst flooding. Volunteers throughout the area are tirelessly sandbagging to fight the rising waters. President Barack Obama has officially declared the area a disaster zone. Review the following links for news updates.

North Dakota declared disaster zone amid flooding

Manitoba Rouseau River First Nation flood evacuation

North Dakota Braces for record flood waters

Cold temperature  slowing rise of Red River, North Dakota, Minnesota

Canadian Military on standby to battle Manitoba flooding

From the archives – Red River Rising: Manitoba Flood history

FLOOD liaison office – Manitoba red River valley:

200 Saulteaux Cres. in Winnipeg: 204-945-2354
available to provide information to residents of the Red River Valley, including details on existing flood protection levels, current forecasted flood levels and the status of community ring-dike closures. The offices will be open daily from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. until the current flood risk is over.

I’ll be posting more updates as they come in and ways people can help those affected by the floods and evacuations.

Ice jams – flooding: Red River threat in Manitoba

Manitoba, North Dakota, Minnesota Flooding and Evacuations

Manitoba – Winnipeg Update: [source yahoo! canada news CP]

The real threat at the moment is coming from ice jams along the river, which have already caused overland flooding north of Winnipeg, he added. “We feel we can handle all the water. It’s the ice that may jam and cause localized flooding that challenged us in the last 48 hours and challenges us for the operation of the floodway.” The province won’t activate the floodway to divert water away from Winnipeg until the ice has cleared, he said. Sandbagging continued Friday to guard against the early stages of any flooding.

Evacuation alerts were still in effect for 850 people from the Roseau River First Nation and Riverside near the U.S. border. About 95 elders and those with chronic conditions were taken by charter buses to Winnipeg from Roseau River on Thursday as a precaution.

Meanwhile, authorities were keeping an eye on the ice jams north of Winnipeg. A blockage near the community of Lockport, Man., led to the evacuation of 40 homes earlier in the week. It broke up, but re-formed down the river. Emergency measures co-ordinator Paul Guyader said firefighters began checking water levels at first light Friday. Sandbagging efforts were focused in areas north of the blocked ice to prevent more homes from flooding, he said.

North Dakota, Minnesota Update: [source cbc.ca]

Ahead of potentially disastrous flooding from the rising Red River, officials in Minnesota asked thousands of households in a city bordering the river to evacuate Friday. About one-third of the households in Moorhead — 2,660 in all — are affected, said city spokeswoman Becky Jahnke. The move follows the mandatory evacuation of more than 190 homes, nursing homes, hospitals and a county jail in North Dakota as the swollen Red River broke a 112-year-old flood level record on Friday.

Meanwhile, U.S. President Barack Obama has dispatched the acting head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency to the region.

Check back to the missionlog here for updates on possible volunteer deployments with Project417 and the Salvation Army Emergency and Disaster Services.

50 Reasons to Leave Facebook

From a recent Facebook Note –

Facebook Note

In no particular order:
(like, you really need 50 reasons?)
1. You have better things to do, no really.
2. Have you ever actually read the Facebook Terms & Conditions?
3. See number 50
4. It spawns spam – it is spam spawning.
5. Facebook mines your personal data and relationship information to sell to advertisers.
6. You’re already a member of other social networking sites like StumbleUpon, or Myspace, or Spaces, or Digg, or etc etc

19. You spend more time on Facebook than you do actually with your friends in person.

22. Twitter…

For all fifty reasons, especially #49 and 50, click read more or Digg it up.

read more | digg story

The reason an article on leaving Facebook would appear on this site, which is normally devoted to volunteerism, activism and homelessness issues – is that Facebook wants our business.  Recent Facebook developments and upgrades have concerned many Facebook users, and forced them to realize they are not Facebook “customers”, merely data sources to be mined on behalf of real Facebook customers: businesses, organizations and advertisers. Project417 does have a Facebook page – and it has been a frustrating experience, for a charitable, non-profit to navigate and configure exactly what that Facebook “Page” is supposed to accomplish or leverage from the 175 million plus Facebook users.

To really find out, I suppose, would mean spending money, i.e. paying the Facebook gurus to improve our exposure – which rankles because we’d rather spend money helping the homeless. Our Facebook page has 47 fans (out of 198 friends and countless friends of friends and the Facebook Networks it appears in). While this WordPress blog – missionlog.wordpress.com – has had more than 15,000 views since inception – AND WordPress.com has a no banner advertising policy. The Missionlog blog turns up frequently in search engine results from Google and the rest and regularly gets referrals from StumbleUpon, Digg and Reddit to name a few. That is visibility for our cause – it has been a real benefit to the poor and homeless we help, even contributing in a real way to recent relief efforts in Texas following Hurricane Ike. The pre-Christmas volunteer team that was such a big help down there found Project417 on WordPress, right here.

So for Project417’s humanitarian cause, social applications like the WordPress blogosphere, and others like Blogger, iGoogle, Youtube, MySpace, Spaces, Flickr Photos, Picasa Web Photos, Twitter and many others, have only helped and are generally very easy to configure and begin sharing with friends and supporters. Not to say that their focus is not on generating profit, of course they are businesses too, but they have arrived at successful business models by focusing on users first, and letting the resultant traffic drive their growth. Facebook’s business model however, seems to have morphed into the tail wagging the dog – a frantic search for the most money-making interface at the expense of users.

As a user – it was fun on Facebook for a while, connecting with friends, updating the status, writing on walls, tagging photos. But did Facebook make friends for me? Of course not, they all came from my existing (multiple) email address books. The Facebook “friend finder” might have added two or three people to my contact list (by mining friends of friends), but then those connections probably would have been made at any of the other existing social network sites, or by the tried and true email forwarding method. But of course then things changed. The new facebook look and feel. Questions about the terms and conditions and ownership of content – all issues stemming from Facebook’s yearning to evolve from a Harvard University bulletin board and high-school messaging service into a scion of business profitability.

So is Facebook enriching my friendships? Or infringing on time spent valuably with people in person? Will leaving Facebook, lose me friends? Of course not. Will I be out of touch because I’m not logged into facebook? – I think not.

Will the joke be on Facebook when people leave Facebook and delete their profiles? I trust they see the humor – maybe it will spur a change.. You can make it happen. Share this blog on your Facebook profile. Digg it up! Post it on Reddit. Blog it here at WordPress,  forward an email to everyone in your address book –

Click here - it doesn't do anything.

Click here - it doesn't do anything.

Explosions in Two Toronto Apartment Buildings

Update: Hundreds of residents were forced to evacuate after explosions rocked two Toronto apartment complexes in separate incidents Thursday.

The first, a condominium building in the east end at Kingston Rd and Eglinton, suffered two blasts shortly after 2:30 am – one inside a utility room, followed by a Hydro transformer outside the building. More than 500 residents were evacuated to a community centre, where volunteer relief workers provided meals. More here from yesterdays post.

photo url - ctv.ca

photo url - ctv.ca

The second incident occurred early Thursday afternoon at 2369 Lake Shore Blvd., in the third-floor electrical room of a four-storey, 92-unit apartment building. [source ctv.ca] Residents were also evacuated to a nearby community centre – where about thirty stayed Thursday night. During investigation of the fire, what appeared to be marijuana grow-ops were discovered in three of the units. It’s not known whether the hydro consumed by the grow-ops contributed to the electrical room explosion.

Project417 volunteers also responded to the community centre with the Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services team to assist residents and serve food and beverages adding to the relief assistance already being provided after the east end explosion.

Explosion at Toronto apartment – 500 residents evacuated

cbc.ca photo

cbc.ca photo

Explosion in Toronto Apartment Complex

Location: Kingston Rd – Eglinton Avenue

Update from canoe: Hundreds of residents were evacuated after an explosion this morning at an east-end apartment. Many, some wearing only their pj’s and robes, were loaded onto transit buses and taken to a community center.

The explosion, in the basement utility room, knocked out the building’s power. read more | digg story Share it and Digg it up!

More from globeandmail.com – ” More than 500 were forced to evacuate the building . Following the blast in the condominium, a Hydro Transformer outside the building also exploded. Commander O’Hallarn of the Toronto Fire Departments said the evacuation has been lengthy because it took time to set up a location to temporarily house people. Some residents have been shuttled off to the Scarborough Village Community Centre at 3600 Kingston Rd….

And cbc.ca – “Most residents were able to enter their condos to take some of their belongings and pets with them. Some spent the day at a nearby community centre, while others said they were going to stay with friends or family.

Project417 Update – Once again, Project417 responded to the disaster. Project417’s Director, Joe Elkerton, had been on call all week for the Salvation Army’s Emergency Disaster response unit (EDS), backing up the vacationing Salvation Army manager in charge.  He received the call from Toronto Fire early Thursday morning that hundreds of residents were sheltered in the east end community center. Joe quickly organized  volunteers, picked up the EDS community response vehicle, which is a fully equipped and stocked 35′  mobile canteen, and headed for the center. Throughout the day, meals, snacks and beverages were served to residents and front-line personnel manning the evacuation centre. The EDS unit of the Salvation Army – with whom Project417 partners – is a critical component of Toronto’s overall emergency and disaster services plan.

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