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Ongoing Manitoba flood threat exacerbated by more storms as communities try to recover

A sign warns of flood water in this file photo. Joe Scarpelli/Global News

With near-record precipitation in Manitoba already in 2022 leading to flooding throughout the province over the past weeks, even more rain in the forecast has communities on watch for rising water levels.

Gimli mayor Lynn Greenberg told 680 CJOB this has been the worst spring he’s ever seen, and although most drainage ditches are handling the water well, he’s concerned about rising water levels along the lake.

“We got all that snow — we got way more snow than we’ve had for probably 50, 60 years,” Greenberg said. “When that went, we got a couple of those extra storms that came along — more moisture, more problems.

“It really affected us. We had to cut roads open so we would save people’s property.”

Greenberg said he’s concerned about winds — which could cause a significant rise in water levels along some shorelines.

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“You can get overwhelmed,” he said. “Those northwesterly winds can cause problems along the lake.”

Read more: Significant rainfall expected for already flooded southern, central Manitoba

Although the area has been hit hard by floods, the owner of a Whiteshell resort says there’s some optimism in his community, despite the forecast.

D.J. Seales of Barrier Bay Resort told 680 CJOB the province has raised up two sections of Provincial Road 307, which is giving those still in the area some confidence.

“It’s not open for everything, it’s just so that the people who are here maintaining stuff will have an exit route,” Seales said, “in case things take a turn for the worst. We’re not thinking it will, but it’s a safety precaution and we’re glad it’s there.”

Click to play video: 'Closures at Manitoba’s Whiteshell provincial park expanded as floodwaters rise' Closures at Manitoba’s Whiteshell provincial park expanded as floodwaters rise
Closures at Manitoba’s Whiteshell provincial park expanded as floodwaters rise – May 25, 2022

Northern parts of Whiteshell Provincial Park were issued a mandatory evacuation order last week due to record water levels.

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The area had some optimistic news in the form of a Manitoba Hydro flood update last week, which predicted a lower peak along the Winnipeg River than what was initially expected — but Seales said there’s always a threat that things could still go badly for the region.

Read more: Whiteshell evacuees face ‘overwhelming’ amount of water, province says

“Somebody just up the road, their barrier broke, so guys are down there helping them pump that out.

“It’s a period of calm, but it’s also not, because you always have in the back of your mind: ‘is something going to happen?’

“Our big concerns are if we have more rainfall than predicted — and the other piece is wind. If you start having waves, it raises the water level by itself.”

Click to play video: 'Significant rain expected to fall in southern, central Manitoba' Significant rain expected to fall in southern, central Manitoba
Significant rain expected to fall in southern, central Manitoba – May 28, 2022

Ritchot mayor Chris Ewen said that while the municipality saw more than 100 families evacuated at the flood’s peak, many of those have returned home, and what remains is a cautious assessment of the situation and a large-scale cleanup effort.

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“I don’t think it’s a matter of being worried, it’s a matter of preparation,” Ewen said, regarding the upcoming storms.

“Roads have opened up again, almost three-quarters of the people, our families, are back into their homes. Yes, we’re watching the weather, but we’re ready for it.

“What’s next is a significant amount of work for volunteers, a significant amount of work for our public works department, a significant amount of work for the families re-entering their homes.

Ewen said Ritchot is already looking at $1 million in flood damage — a number that continues to rise as flood waters recede and proper assessments can be made.

Click to play video: 'Soil expert on impact of flooding on agricultural land' Soil expert on impact of flooding on agricultural land
Soil expert on impact of flooding on agricultural land – May 30, 2022

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