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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Winnipeg flood officials increase estimate of homes at risk

Red River Flood Watch: April 1, 2009

Winnipeg, Manitoba – Fargo, North Dakota

In North Dakota, the risk of flooding from the cresting Red River is not over, but flood fears have eased with the levels at 11.5 meters being below the permanent floodwall level.

However in Manitoba, in the midst of a severe spring snowstorm, the risk of flooding has been escalated by local officials. According to news reports [cbc.ca] the number of homes in Winnipeg at risk of flooding from the rising Red River has been increased from 80 to 140 homes, with residents being urged to add at least a foot of sandbag to existing floodwalls.

Winnipeg flood officials increase estimate of homes at risk

The threat posed by the spreading ice jams is severe, with at least four locations in the city limits identified as possible ice jam locations. North of Winnipeg, the current snowstorm is hampering flood protection efforts as ice jams increase and the areas subject to flooding as a result have been expanded. Selkirk is still under a declared state of emergency in expectation of extensive flooding due to the ice jams.

The river is now expected to crest on Sunday, April 6th.

Other online flood watch resources –

Winnipeg EmergWeb –
Winnipeg crews continue working to respond to rising river levels and prepare for possible ice jams.

Manitoba EMO – Emergency Measures organization –  The Salvation Army is providing meals and refreshments to people working on the flood-fighting efforts north of Winnipeg and in Winnipeg.

Canada News – Spring storm hindering flood protection efforts north of Winnipeg

CBC Manitoba Flood Watch – ice cutting machine plunges through river ice north of Winnipeg

Project417 coordinators will meet tomorrow with Salvation Army EDS manager to determine volunteer deployment possibility. More updates soon…

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