The Rural Municipality of Stuartburn issued more evacuation notices Tuesday evening as southern Manitoba communities struggle with overland flooding due to rainwater.
Volunteers filled the town of Vita’s fire hall on Tuesday to fill sandbags as the swollen Rat River overflowed its banks and the rain, pegged at 155 millimetres in total on Tuesday afternoon, continued to fall.
John Meda, who has lived in the southeastern Manitoba municipality since 1955, said he and his neighbours are assessing their homes.
“This whole area, the whole of Stuartburn, is all underwater. We’ve never seen it like that yet. You have a part (flooded), but not all,” he said.
“I came out yesterday, I was still able to drive into the yard,” he added.
“A few hours later, it came. It came fast. Couldn’t save much, couldn’t do anything.”
About seven more millimetres of rain fell overnight in the area, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada, and the forecast through Thursday is a chance of rain and drizzle.
Marty Yatsko, from Sundown, Manitoba, spent Wednesday afternoon – which happened to be his birthday – trying to pump the water out of his house.
“We’re trying to keep the water from creeping up the walls. The floors got water on them already, but we’re pumping out as fast as we can,” Yatsko said.
“My barn is full of animals and stuff and I don’t know what’s going to happen there yet, but I have to save the houses. I got no running water, nothing. Everything’s toast.”
Yatsko added it’s a relief the rain has let off for the time being, and says the water in his area is receding by approximately half an inch an hour.
The eastern neighbouring Rural Municipality of Piney also declared a state of local emergency Tuesday due to the weather and wet conditions.
“Please use caution when travelling as many roads during this time are impassable,” the emergency message stated.
Piney Reeve Wayne Anderson said the volume of water that fell in such a short time forced the municipal council to declare a state of emergency Tuesday night.
Both rural municipalities closed numerous roads in the area.
Crews are working to repair the roads where they can, added Anderson.
“We’ve got to wait for the waters to go through. If we repair the road, it will just wash out again.”
The municipality isn’t sure how many roads are washed out, nor does it have a damage estimate yet.
“There’s over 500 km of roads we look after, so it takes a while to get around to,” said Anderson.
Stuartburn Reeve David Kiansky called what was happening a disaster.
“We had four houses go underwater — there was another one that’s now underwater, and we need to get an emergency boat there… but the current is so strong, we don’t know how we’re going to do that.
“It’s basically a total disaster right now. It’s one big lake.”