Red River Flood Watch: Weekend Update, April 4-2009, Winnipeg Volunteers Answer Call

Winnipeg prepares for Red River Flooding – Weekend Update – April 4, 2009

Hundreds of volunteers answer the call

Sandbagging efforts stepped up today with hundreds of volunteers turning out north of the city of Winnipeg in St. Andrews, West St. Paul and Selkirk, and within city limits on Kingston Row, Christie Road and Scotia Street. Local residents willing to volunteer, seeking to volunteer, or for information on where to get sandbags for their property are asked to call the city’s 311 information service or visit the EmergWeb online service.

Young volunteer in Winnipeg - Photo: Winnipeg Free Press

Young volunteer in Winnipeg - Photo: Winnipeg Free Press

The danger’s of extensive flooding have been downgraded slightly today, with cresting expected anytime from Tuesday onwards. Accurate forecasting is difficult due to the extent of widespread ice jams up and down the Red River system in Manitoba.  North Dakota escaped the worst of expected flooding with the river cresting last week at less than forecast levels. River crest levels are also projected by Manitoba flood officials to be below historic levels encountered in ’96 and ’79 – but they are all stressing the unpredictability caused by the ice jams, which are causing localized flooding.

Latest reports are that the Red River Floodway will be pressed into action by Wednesday even if the ice that has been preventing its operation hasn’t melted. The Floodway, built to divert rising river water around Winnipeg, is not most effective until major ice pans and ice jams have cleared because the ice could actually result in blockages of the floodway within city limits. Officials however have determined it may be necessary to reduce rapidly rising levels north of the city overall.

Flooding has closed some CPR rail lines south in Emerson,  Manitoba and as well CPR has said they will utilize boxcars loaded with rocks as ballast on some rail bridge crossings of the Red River in the area.

By far the most encouraging news coming out of Manitoba is that of volunteers stepping up to help with the critical task of sandbagging, without which many homes would be overcome by the rising Red River. With the unpredictability of the ice jam conditions, the volunteers are helping add to sandbag dikes built up earlier this week as added protection. Project417 volunteers in Toronto remain on call to travel west to help our neighbors should conditions worsen.

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