Manitoba farmers protest Portage Diversion
Published Monday, April 29, 2013 2:24PM EDT
Last Updated Monday, April 29, 2013 11:55PM EDT
A plan to divert rising waters away from Manitoba communities has local farmers up in arms.
Dozens of farmers set up a blockade Monday of the Portage Diversion, which redirects flood water from the Assiniboine River to Lake Manitoba.
The province was later granted a court injunction against the farmers, and a meeting between the two sides was expected Tuesday.
Last time the province directed waters north, away from communities, during a flood in 2011, farm land was flooded instead.
“We're not back to normal yet,” farmer Gerry Johnson told CTV Winnipeg. “There's still a lot of land at the lakeshore that has to be cleaned up...but the grass has never come back for haying.”
To make matters worse, some farmers haven’t even been compensated from the previous flood, said Jonas Johnson.
“We're protesting the fact that the government is sending more water,” Johnson told CTV Winnipeg. “They haven't paid us for the last time we stored their water. They still owe us money for 2012.”
The protest won’t prevent the province from going ahead with flood diversion measures, officials said. The risk of flooding is too high.
Warmer weekend temperatures caused rivers to rise in Manitoba, where flooding has washed out rural roads, shut down highways and is even being blamed for a train derailment near the province’s border.
Police warned residents of rising rivers and streams on Monday after a 12-year-old girl was found clinging to a tree after being swept away on a flooded road in central Manitoba.
The girl was travelling in a pickup truck with her father when they came across a flooded rural road on Saturday night.
The RCMP said the pair got out of the vehicle and the girl was swept downstream by the fast-moving, icy waters.
She managed to grab onto a tree until rescue workers arrived to the scene.
Two firefighters, the girl and her father were taken to hospital and treated for hypothermia.
The province issued high-water advisories for smaller rivers, creeks, and drains in southeast and south-central Manitoba over the weekend, as flood forecasters warned that rising temperatures would cause tributaries and drains to experience rapidly rising water and ice jams.
The warnings are in effect for the Swan River, Whitemud River and Pembina River. The Manitoba government said water levels in some Dauphin Lake tributaries doubled over 24 hours.
The Red River, which caused major floods over the decades, also continues to rise, but “conditions remain favourable at this time,” the province said in a flood bulletin.
Still, the river’s rising levels left a historic site in downtown Winnipeg, The Forks, submerged in water and shut down several highways in the St. Laurent area due to overland flooding on Sunday.
The river was measured at 29 feet, which is one foot below a major flood stage.
Provincial officials were counting on a snow melt to control this year’s flood, given that the cool weather has helped keep the flood waters at bay. However, with rain forecasted for the beginning of the week, officials are now warning of possible overland flooding.
Meanwhile, flood waters are also being blamed for a weekend passenger train derailment in the eastern part of Saskatchewan, near the Manitoba boundary.
A VIA Rail passenger train jumped the tracks near Togo, Sask., Sunday and subsequently caught fire.
Officials said the rail line may have been washed out by spring run-off, however, the investigation into the exact cause is ongoing.
Seven passengers and three crew members were on board at the time, but no serious injuries were reported.
According to Environment Canada, temperatures in Winnipeg are expected to drop to below freezing on Tuesday and Wednesday before beginning to rise later in the week.
By Sunday, the daily high is forecast to hit 20 C.
With files from CTV Winnipeg