A number of communities in Manitoba’s Interlake are dealing with flooding, crumbling roads and states of emergency after the third heavy rainfall in as many weeks.
Over the weekend, Environment Canada recorded 40.6 millimetres of rain in Gimli, prompting the rural municipality to call a state of local emergency. Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure said areas of the Interlake and east of Lake Winnipeg received an average of 30 to 50 millimetres in the same time period.
“A lot of water coming down and it’s just overwhelmed the drainage system and … we’ve had some roads washed out and it’s getting worse and worse all the time,” said Mayor Lynn Greenberg.
At this time, no households have been asked to evacuate, but many are seeing water enter their basements, he said.
“People have never seen water like this in this area. We’ve never seen a spring like this where we’ve had all this extra snow,” Greenberg said.
“It’s just been hopeless. But we’ve got to work through it.”
Greenberg credits the public works crew and hired contractors for working “night until dark.”
South of Gimli in Winnipeg Beach, the mayor and council called a state of emergency to deal with a culvert system that’s been a problematic piece of infrastructure over the last decade.
The provincially-owned system uses three culverts and drains into the marina and the lake, but Mayor Tony Pimentel says the water doesn’t move quickly enough.
“In order for us to go in there and do the work of removing those culverts to allow for faster flow, we needed to declare a state of emergency…. Plus, we can now also access funds that we don’t have budgeted for events like this.”
Pimentel hopes something can be done after the town recovers from the flooding because they’ve had to call a state of emergency three times in 12 years in part because of the culverts.
“We’ll have to go back to the province and look for continue on working towards getting a better solution for that location because … what we have is not conducive to weather conditions like we’ve had in the past number of years.”
The Municipality of Bifrost-Riverton also declared a state of emergency on Sunday, asking people to steer clear of all municipal roads.
“The water levels continue to wash out and over roads, with many roads that have to be closed for safety, we are not capable of barricading every road at this time and ask all nonessential travel be postponed,” the municipality said in a Facebook post.
School bus routes are also cancelled.
Interlake First Nations affected by flooding
North of Gimli and Winnipeg Beach, two First Nations in the Interlake are also dealing with significant challenges due to flooding.
In Peguis First Nation, which is under a local state of emergency, water levels are slowly rising and spreading out to low lying areas.
Overland flooding is occurring in some areas from ice buildup at mouth of the Fisher River, the Interlake First Nation said in a Facebook post.
As of Sunday, six households have Tiger Dams surrounding them, and a boil water advisory is in effect for those who are not on the main water line.
In neighbouring Fisher River Cree Nation, also under a state of emergency, students at the two local schools are being asked to stay home.
“Classes will be cancelled so that children can remain safely at home with families.Teachers have begun preparing homework packs for those who would like to have school work for their children,” a notice posted to the First Nation’s Facebook page said.
“We do not anticipate a return to normal operations until the threat of flooding has been lifted.”
Homes with wells that are impacted by flood waters are being encouraged to boil their water before use.
The province says an overland flood warning is still in place for the Interlake as most ditches and waterways are either full or near their capacity.