Red River Flood Watch – Latest Update May 1 – Flooding south of Winnipeg like a 2,000 sq km lake

Extensive flooding south of Winnipeg:

The last update at the Canada News blog was 10 days ago and conditions for our friends in Manitoba have not improved much. This post is a mirror of the canayjun post…

The flooding south of Winnipeg, although it has dropped today by about a foot, is still extensive and looks more like a 2,000 square kilometer lake than the Red River. Communities to the south are still behind ring dikes with homes stranded behind sandbags or small islands of higher ground. According to WFP many in these stranded south Manitoba communities are laying the blame on the City of Winnipeg Floodway, saying that the flood gates are not low enough and that more of the floodwaters should be admitted into the Floodway diversion to ease water levels to the south. The slowly receding waters will make life difficult for residents, hundreds of whom were evacuated with many still getting around in small boats and other water craft.

photo - CBC

photo -CBC

North of Winnipeg, where several communities declared emergencies due to serious flooding caused by the ice jams, evacuated residents are now returning to survey their flood and ice damaged homes. In the Regional Municipalities of St. Clements and St. Andrews, the Manitoba provincial government has announced it will buy out owners of properties in high-risk areas (like Breezy point) that have suffered flood damage several times in the last few years.

Evacuated members of three flood-affected Manitoba First Nations are receiving flood clean up kits from the Red Cross for their damaged homes. The Peguis, Fisher River and Roseau River First Nations are returning to their homes after several weeks of being evacu­ated.

Even in Winnipeg itself, though flood concerns are low there is still risk of damage as the city’s sewer system is operating at reduced capacity due to higher river levels and runoff. High river levels means a bigger strain on the city sewer system, and heavy rainfall in the forecast the next few days means there’s a greater chance of basement flooding. Winnipeggers can get more information at EmergWeb or by calling 311.

Also from Winnipeg, effective Sunday, May 3, 2009 at 6:00 p.m., the Flood Evacuee Reception Centre in Winnipeg, located at the Century Arena, will be closing. The Reception Centre opened on April 15, 2009, for people requiring emergency support services as a result of having to leave their homes due to flooding. To date, the Reception Centre has assisted 273 families, or a total of 724 individuals. Starting Monday, May 4, 2009, evacuees continuing to require emergency assistance will be able to access these services at the River Heights Health and Social Services Centre, 677 Stafford Street at Pembina Highway (located next to Price Choppers). The office will be open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Project417 volunteers were not asked to head out to Winnipeg to help, the local emergency and disaster crews along with numerous willing volunteers, the Salvation Army and the Red Cross have handled the flood response admirably. What Project417 will do is canvass for individual property owners and homeowners who would benefit from a volunteer team willing to help with re-building, renovation and clean-up for a week or two, perhaps among the First Nations communities. I’ll keep you updated here. Right now we’re on watch for any increase in the flu pandemic level in the GTA. As a matter of fact we’re helping with the National Emergency Preparedness Week (May 3-9) event to be held at Queen’s Park in Toronto on Monday at noon and expect to be serving more than 500 attendees a BBQ lunch from the Salvation Army’s mobile canteens and community response vehicles ( I’ll post some photos Tuesday).

[sources – Winnipeg Free Press , CBC Manitoba , Winnipeg.ca EmergWeb ]

Red River Flood Watch – Thursday April 16 Winnipeg Declares State of Emergency

Latest Update Monday April 20, 2009 – Canada News – aerial photo of flooding Red River looks more like the Red Sea…

Thursday April 16, 2009 – The City of Winnipeg officially declared a state of emergency just after 11:00am this morning due to the rising flood waters of the Red River. The crest is expected to flow through the city between today and tomorrow. Residents of low lying areas affected by the flood are being told to cooperate with emergency personnel … more [including video of flooding in St. Agathe]

Winnipeg Red River Flood Watch – Wednesday April 15 – Update and photos

Red River Flood Watch – Update, April 15 – Latest photos …more

Winnipeg Red River Flood Watch – Wednesday April 15 – Update and photos

The latest news from EmergWeb is that the threat of flooding is not over, with the city responding to changing river conditions and shifting flood fighting efforts to the north and central areas of Winnipeg. New calls for volunteers (at least 500 needed) continue to be posted. In the local Winnipeg calling area – call 311 – to register to volunteer or visit the EmergWeb volunteer page
The need for volunteers today is urgent.

From the Province of Manitoba EMO
A continued rapid melt is contributing to higher levels on Red River tributaries and resulting in further forecasted increases for some areas of the river. The 2009 flood will now surpass 1979 and 1950 levels in areas from St. Jean Baptiste to the floodway inlet. This makes 2009 the second-greatest flood since the floods of the 1800s. Levels for the 1997 flood were still about 0.6 metres (two feet) higher than crests expected this year. Many areas of Manitoba are also experiencing overland flash flooding caused by frozen, saturated soil and crests in many locations are lasting longer than usual. This combination of events has resulted in a serious flood situation that could last for several weeks.

Evacuations – A partial evacuation is underway from Peguis First Nation through the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters (MANFF). MANFF has started an evacuation of 119 residents to Winnipeg this afternoon. An evacuation of the personal-care home in St. Adolphe will begin this evening as a precautionary measure. Approximately 40 residents will be moved to Winnipeg. The St. Adolphe Personal Care Home, the South Eastman Manitoba Regional Health Authority and the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority are co-ordinating the placement of residents according to the level of care required and the location of family. Family members of residents are being contacted.

Disaster Assistance – An office is being set up in Selkirk to help residents who have been affected by the flooding. Visit the EMO website for more information

Webcam – Live view of Winnipeg Red River Floodway gates

Photos –

Visit Winnipeg Free Press on Flickr

Visit Winnipeg Free Press on Flickr

[thumbnail source – Winnipeg Free Press on Flickr]

I’ll keep adding updates as they come in from all the feeds as well as mirror on the MissionLog, and post volunteer updates at project417.com. If you have links to photos or videos post them in the comments here. Thanks.

Red River Flood Watch – Latest Update April 9 – Winnipeg Manitoba

Flood Watch Updates mirrored at Canada News Blog

Red River Flood Watch – April 2009 – Updates including Winnipeg, Manitoba area and Fargo, North Dakota

Alerts – Thursday April 9

  • Red River Floodway has been opened.
  • Highway 75 will be temporarily closed from Winnipeg to approximately 20 kilometres south of Morris starting Tuesday at noon. It will reopen when the flood threat has passed.

EmergWeb Updates – City of Winnipeg – Local calling area, call 311

At-risk property owners advised to raise dikes due to ice and rising river levels: Temporary evacuation of specific areas recommended based on river conditions – The City of Winnipeg is advising at-risk property owners on Kingston Row and Kingston Crescent to raise their dikes an additional foot. This is required due to the risk of additional ice jams in the Kingston Row area. More…

Ice Jams still greatest threat
The Winnipeg Floodway has been opened diverting huge volumes of rising Red River water around the city to the north. The greatest risk continues to be the unpredictable nature of the ice jams – there have been instances of jams dislodging, and waters receding, only to rise dramatically again in a few hours when the ice jams at a new location only short distances down the river. ( The Red River flows south to north in the Winnipeg area). Areas at the greatest risk of flooding, with many properties being flooded already are north of Winnipeg, concentrated for now in Selkirk, although there has been some flooding to the south as well. At the Manitoba U.S border area Highway 75 has been closed for a few days.

In some unsettling reports – a new flood fighting method tried out by the city and province is proving to be unreliable. Water is getting past some “tube dike” deployments in Winnipeg. The province purchased more than 60 of the tube dikes – long rubber tubes then filled with water – less than two weeks ago, as they were supposed to be faster than sandbag dikes to deploy.

It is also difficult to say what the impact will be of the water diverted through the Floodway on ice jams to the north. Because ice is flowing through the Floodway, when it exits the northern outlet, all the ice will then meet existing ice jams near Selkirk and other communities if they have not dislodged by then.

I’ll continue posting the updates both at the Canada News blog as well as here at the MissionLog on WordPress.com and will post volunteer opportunities for Toronto area folks wishing to get involved at the Project417 website  – project417.com

Red River Flood Watch – Update, April 7 – Winnipeg, Manitoba and area, Fargo, North Dakota

Red River Flood Watch – April 7: Winnipeg, Manitoba Update – Fargo, ND

Red River Flood Watch – Update, April 7 – Winnipeg, Manitoba and area, Fargo, North Dakota

You’ll notice at the Canada News Commentary blog that I’ve been following closely the Red River flood situation in both Manitoba and North Dakota. This news watch on the flooding has also been twinned here at the MissionLog blog at WordPress.com

My goal is to gather the latest news from the most reliable news sources on the scene in the areas and present an accurate synopsis both to residents of the affected areas and concerned people across the country  worried about families or wondering how best to help – with an emphasis on volunteerism. The latest flood updates and links to news articles are just below. [sources- cbc.ca; WinnipegFreePress.com; Government of Manitoba; City of Winnipeg winnipeg.ca]

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I work with Project417, a small grassroots non-profit in Toronto. Normally, we work out on the streets with the inner city homeless population. For the past several years, Project417 has also been directly involved in Disaster Recovery work, specifically organizing volunteers to go and help those rendered homeless by disasters. Homelessness can befall anyone by environmental disaster as well as other circumstances, and we have experience in helping our neighbors across North America – as they are usually no more than a couple of days drive.

Relief efforts Project417 has  responded to include:  Hurricane Ivan, Grenada, fundraising for YWAM – Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans, first response mobile canteens, emergency distribution center, crisis counselling, Lower 9th ward home rebuilding – Hurricane Ike, Houston Galveston County, first response mobile canteens, emergency distribution center, San Leon home rebuilding – City of Toronto, 2008 propane explosion, 2008 Secord Avenue Hydro vault explosion, 2009 East and West end apartment explosions, food and refreshment services at community evacuation centres – City of Vaughan and Region of Durham, emergency exercises – Thunder Bay, Ontario, Trillium provincial emergency exercise. For many of these we partner with the central region Salvation Army Emergency Disaster Services, while for Hurricane Katrina and Ike, Project417 has directly organized the home rebuilding efforts with hundreds of volunteers.

Emerson area road flooded - cbc.ca photo

Emerson area road flooded - cbc.ca photo

Ice Jams UnpredictableManitoba

In the Winnipeg area and elsewhere in Manitoba, the greatest risk reported right now from the rising levels on the Red River are from the widespread ice jams along many stretches of the river, combined with still extensive ice pans still covering much of the river. Winnipeg officials are confident that the recent relatively good weather conditions are reducing the risk of serious flooding. The good weather also assisted in making the job of hundreds of area volunteers who turned out over the weekend in increasing the sandbagging levels within Winnipeg city limits and in communities north such as St. Andrews and Selkirk, as well as south in Emerson. ( Ice jam raises river in Selkirk, threatens homes, April 7)

In addition, the province is making use of its Amphibex ice breakers on the ice pans and ice jams in several trouble spots on the river. The city’s Floodway, built to divert rising waters around the city during floods, can not normally be opened until ice jams and pans have melted or cleared, as letting in the ice could cause structural damage withing the Floodway. Officials are reported to have decided to open the floodway this week however and are taking steps to clear the jams.

The unpredictability of the ice jams makes it difficult to asses the impact of the cresting waters. Currently waters are expected to crest at just over 6 metres withing flood wall and dike protection, with sandbagging raising levels to about seven and a half metres for safety.

Similarly, on the border of Manitoba, Emerson is going to be the first facing this week the rising waters heading up from North Dakota. The CPR rail line is already closed by flooding in the area, but Emerson officials are similarly confident the town is prepared to meet the flood and don’t expect levels to reach catastrophic levels seen in the past. However they expect Highway 75 to be flooded, the main highway between Manitoba and the U.S. with expected lengthy delays for truckers and travellers.

Winnipeg area residents wishing to volunteer can call from the local calling area Winnipeg’s 311 information service, or email 311@winnipeg.ca with their name, telephone number and times of availability. You can also visit the area’s EmergWeb site at http://winnipeg.ca/emergweb

The Salvation Army and Red Cross in Manitoba has been out providing relief to volunteers and residents. Project417 volunteers remain on call.

Fargo, North Dakota may face second wave of floodwaters.

The U.S. Weather Service has issued new warnings to North Dakota residents that Fargo could face a second surge of floodwaters later this month and officials are watching reports closely. Just last week, Fargo and area residents escaped the worst as the Red River flood crest was lower than expected and the majority of dikes and sandbagging efforst held. More than 1,000 National Guard are still in the area to help if conditions should worsen again – as well as the combined forces of Salvation Army Emergency and Disaster Services and the Red Cross.

I’ll post more updates here as soon as I can and at Canayjun’s Canada News blog. If there are any volunteer efforts being organized from Toronto, I’ll also post them here and at the Project417 website. Post a comment here if you have any volunteer information or breaking news.

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.

Flood Watch: Red River -Update April 2-09 – Winnipeg Calls for more sandbag volunteers

Red River Flood Watch 2009 – Update: Thursday, April 2

sandbagsWinnipeg calls for more sandbag volunteers Hundreds of Manitoba homes at risk from Red River ice jams

Winnipeg needs help – more volunteers needed for sandbagging in neighborhoods at increased risk of flooding

Officials in Winnipeg, Manitoba are escalating flood preparedness activities due to spreading ice jams in several key locations in the city including near the University of Manitoba in Fort Richmond and in communities just to the north – West St. Paul and St. Andrews.

The 48 km long floodway channel that diverts water around the city can’t be opened until large ice pans and floes clear. If the ice were to enter the channel, it would increase the risk of ice jams at several bridges within the city limits.
The Red River has already crested to the south of Manitoba in North Dakota, with evacuations near Fargo being ended. However, the cold weather in Manitoba has resulted in exceedingly dense ice conditions with many jams accumulating at major bends and low bridges along the extensive Red River valley system. Although the river is not expected to crest in the Winnipeg area until after April 6th early next week – the existence of the ice jams makes it difficult to predict the outcome of a sudden thaw. Even if the river crests below high water marks, floodwalls and dikes, a sudden thaw runoff meeting ice jams could cause serious localized flooding.

Lockport Bridge Ice jam

Lockport Bridge Ice jam

The local Salvation Army is on site at several sandbagging operations with refreshments, hot drinks and meals for emergency workers and volunteers. Local volunteers looking where to volunteer in the Winnipeg area should call the city’s informations service by dialling 311, or by visiting the online EmergWeb service or Manitoba provincial EMO (Emergency Measures Organization).

Here in Toronto,
Project417 is on call with the Salvation Army’s Emergency and Disaster Services (EDS) operation if local Manitoba resources are overwhelmed by any increase in need for volunteers. If requested by Manitoba agencies, we would join the Salvation Army and deliver mobile canteens and crisis response units to the people in need. Visit Project417.com for updates on upcoming volunteer opportunities.

In the past year, Project417 has responded twice to the Texas gulf coast near Galveston following Hurricane Ike, as well as helping out with EDS meal services at two recent Toronto area apartment explosions that resulted in the evacuation of over 700 residents. My experience in disaster relief goes back to a 6 month stretch helping in New Orleans after Katrina in 2005 and last fall I took part in the Ontario Provincial EMO exercise in Thunder Bay dubbed “Trillium” – which involved more than 1,500 front-line workers and volunteers responding to a mock disaster simulating conditions related to the eastern Ontario ice storm.

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