July 7, 2014 1:21 pm

Delta Beach residents fight back as community threatened by flood

Super sandbags have been placed near properties in Delta Beach, where 15 owners of homes and 150 cottages have been given evacuation orders.

Rudi Pawlychyn / Global News

WINNIPEG – She is 71 years old and lifting bag after bag of heavy sand onto her Delta Beach property in hopes of building a wall strong enough to hold back the rapidly rising waters of Lake Manitoba.

Betty Granger has done this before, in 2011. Last time around it was depressing; this time she says she is saddened — and enraged.

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“How dare they. How dare they! You have no idea how mad I am,” she said Monday. “I have watched what they’ve done to this lake and I think, ‘Where are the environmentalists? Where is the Department of Fisheries and Oceans? Where are the people who care?’”

Granger is getting ready for a possible flood that has brought evacuation notices to some of her neighbours, though she is only under a “pre-evacuation” order — she could still be told to get out.

The Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie has told residents and cottagers in West Delta Beach to leave their properties because of possible failure of a dike holding water in the Portage Diversion. The diversion carries water from the swollen Assiniboine River to Lake Manitoba to save Portage la Prairie, Winnipeg and properties between from flooding.

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If the diversion fails near Delta Beach, water will come from the south into the community, which faces Lake Manitoba to the north.

The RM is working to build up a dike of super sandbags west of at least two dozen homes and cottages.

Larry Muirhead received an evacuation notice but signed a waiver so he could stay at his home – for now.

“We talked with other permanent residents and a lot of them are staying,” the retiree said from his home on Monday morning. “It looks like the east side of the diversion has held so far.”

Muirhead and his wife are taking extra time to prepare for a flood and will leave if they feel it’s no longer safe to stay. They’re moving their belongings higher on their property and planning what they’ll take with them if they go, he said.

“You just roll with the punches,” Muirhead said. “You can’t fight water. It’s there, it’s coming; you just hope and pray you don’t get more falling from the heavens.”

Like Granger, the Muirheads have lived through this before.

During the 2011 flood, farms and homes were flooded by water from the diversion and swollen Lake Manitoba.

The Muirheads left their retirement home in May 2011 and didn’t move back in until July 2012.

“We had 14 months taken out of our life,” he said.

However, damage to the Muirheads’ property was limited to mould in the garage and losing sand, trees and a deck on the lakefront, he said – their home escaped damage.

Others had their homes destroyed and farmers lost any chance of using their land, he said.

But on Monday morning, Muirhead sounded optimistic about his future in the community.

“There’s still a positive feeling that things will eventually settle out,” he said, referring to provincial government efforts to build better permanent flood-control measures.

“Once that’s done, we will settle back into our little piece of paradise.”

Granger, however, wants to know ‘Where is the help?’

“The army is at Hoop and Holler and they don’t even know if they’re going to cut there. Where is the help here?”

© Shaw Media, 2014

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