May 4, 2017 5:41 pm

Winnipeggers recall the rush to save homes 20 years after 1997 flood

A dike holds back water during the 1997 flood that devastated much of Manitoba.

Global News / Archive

WINNIPEG — Twenty years have passed, but the memories are still fresh.

“I remember it like it was yesterday,” said Mike Loewen, who lives on Christie Road.

“It was really neat to see the kind of spirit people have when others are in trouble,” said Deanna Waters, who lives on Kingston Row.

RELATED: Looking back at the Flood of the Century that devastated Ste. Agathe, Man.

Both Loewen and Waters along with thousands of other Winnipeggers were evacuated from their homes this week in 1997.

The Red River had already swallowed up many homes in the Red River Valley and Winnipeg was its next target during the Flood of the Century.

RELATED: ‘All hands on deck’: Former premier looks back on Flood of the Century

“There seems to be an unknown factor,” said Waters back in 1997.

Deanna Waters speaks with Global’s Lorraine Nickel about the flood 20 years ago.

Global News

Her six feet high dike held up, saving her home.

“If it would have gone into the house it would have been a foot on the main floor and would have filled our lower floor,” Waters said.

20 years later, she still lives along the river and every spring keeps an eye on the water, for good reason.

“When you see the water coming up you realize, wow water has tremendous power.”

The memories are similar on Christie Road, just south of the Perimeter Highway.

“It would have been about five and half feet tall and pyramid style about six, eight or seven feet wide,” said Mike Loewen showing Global News where his dike once stood.

Mike Loewen describes the scene 20 years ago as flood waters threatened his home.

Global News

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Loewen recalls suddenly one day, 120 strangers showed up by bus to sandbag around his home. He and his family were told to leave in a hurry but Loewen snuck back in.

RELATED: Looking back at the Winnipeg blizzard that led to the Flood of the Century

“I came in the back way with hip waders sort of, water up to here grabbing tree to tree because the current was so strong,” said Loewen. “The rapids pouring through here, it was unbelievable. I was terrified, I thought I would find the house was flooded and I crawled up on the dike and it was bone dry.”

54 homes were lost and lives were changed forever but Manitobans showed the world what kindness looks like.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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