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Manitoba to open Red River Floodway in advance of snow, rain

The Red River and Floodway.
The Red River and Floodway. Global News / File

The Red River Floodway will be activated Wednesday evening at 7 p.m.

Heavy September rains have resulted in the Red River reaching record high levels, and the expected downpour of precipitation later in the week means the province will activate the floodway to lower river levels in the city.

This is the first time the floodway has ever been opened in the fall, but civil engineer Jay Doering told 680 CJOB that it’s not the first time Winnipeg has seen high water levels at this time of year.

“We have been in similar territory before,” said Doering. “Both 2008 and 2010 did have very high fall water levels on the Red River – not quite as high as they are now, but pretty high.”

Doering said both of those years preceded fairly significant floods in the spring, but that it’s too far out to be seriously worried about a spring flood in 2020.

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READ MORE: Manitobans scramble to prepare for early onslaught of winter weather

Winnipeg could get more than 10 cm of precipitation through Thursday and Friday.

The province’s plan to open the flood control structure had one business owner on the flood plain scrambling Wednesday.

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A Maze in Corn owner Clint Masse was working diligently to take his haunted forest — a Halloween attraction that brings in a significant number of customers — to higher ground.

“They’re working on Broadway, their feet aren’t wet, they’re warm and they’re dry, their feet aren’t even wet and we’ve been trudging around in mud for a whole six weeks, we’ve had 11 inches of rain,” Masse said of the provincial decision makers.

The forest attraction is on a low-lying piece of property next to a creek that already flooded after the September rain falls. He expected a four foot rise in water after the flood control structure was put into operation.

Storm Prep

Mother Nature is also running the schedule for landscapers, more so than usual this fall.

“We actually have to look at planning out our sites a little bit better,” B. Rocke Landscaping president Bryon Rocke said. “So we have to look at if there’s rain coming at the end of the week, (then) we won’t dig out a site because we know it’s going to get flooded.”

The landscapers are now bracing for the snowfall, after dealing with a soaking wet September. But they find a way to work through it.

“This is Winnipeg,” Rocke laughed. “We’re Manitobans, we’re really tough. We’re used to this.”

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Manitoba Hydro is also preparing for the wintery blast. With a significant amount of leaves on the trees, there is potential for a number of power outages.

“This is the biggest fear we have, is that with the leaves still on the trees, if we get that wet snow, it’s going to weigh these branches down considerably,” Manitoba Hydro media relations officer Bruce Owen said. “If there’s any wind associated with that, these branches will come into contact with our power lines, outages result.”

Owen also says poor driving conditions could delay crews, and there is a risk that hydro poles could break as well.

Manitoba is also reminding residents to be prepared in advance for power outages. They say you should keep an emergency box with essential items including candles, matches, a flashlight, extra batteries, bottled water, food that doesn’t require cooking, and blankets. You can also find more information on their website.

Floodway 101 – How does the Red River Floodway work, anyway?
Floodway 101 – How does the Red River Floodway work, anyway?