Winnipeg scaling back flood preparations as floodway operations begin
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, March 31, 2017 1:04PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 1, 2017 10:24AM EDT
WINNIPEG -- Three rural municipalities in Manitoba have declared a state of emergency due to overland flooding, but Winnipeg scaled back flood preparations on Friday after Manitoba officials moved to divert water around the city.
The affected municipalities are Dufferin, La Broquerie and Two Borders.
Some basements were flooded along with farmland and roads.
Officials said a freeze/thaw over the last few days caused ditches in the area to become clogged by two to three feet of ice and when it melted, conduit drains were so full of hardened snow the water didn't have anywhere to go.
"Water was going overland in areas that it never does and it was following patterns that were unusual," said George Gray, reeve of the RM of Dufferin.
"Right now we'll probably turn our attention to the Boyne River, which is another conduit in the RM which Carman is protected from now with the diversion. But it would appear now that it's going to be causing some damage as we move along."
He said peak flows are likely over in the area, unless there's significant rainfall over the next few days.
Flooding has also resulted in the ring dike in the border town of Gretna being partially closed due to flooding on the Pembina River.
Canada Border Services Agency said the U.S. side of the border crossing itself was under water and closed to traffic, but the Gretna side was still open.
As for Winnipeg, the gates of the Red River floodway were lifted in anticipation of the river cresting in the city sometime on the weekend. City officials said activating the floodway meant there were just 25 properties at risk, down from 50.
The number of sandbags needed was also cut to 20,000 from 75,000.
The province issued a number of flood watches and warnings for smaller creeks and rivers due to ice jams.
Manitoba flood officials said water levels also were rising along the Red and Assiniboine rivers.
"Ice is still in place on many rivers and tributaries. The risk of ice jamming in drains and small tributaries is present as flows start to rise. Ice jamming is developing on southern Manitoba's major rivers," the province said in a flood bulletin.
"Temperatures across southern Manitoba are above average, resulting in more melting and runoff."
Forecasters have said soil moisture is very high following a wet fall, and river and lake levels are above normal in some areas.
Officials said they've put flood-fighting gear -- including steamers and pumps -- in the southwest and are in touch with municipal emergency co-ordinators.