The City of Winnipeg says fewer homes along the Red River need to be sandbagged after the Red River Floodway was opened Friday.
The gates to the floodway went up at about 10:15 a.m. The river is currently expected to peak between 18.6 to 20.8 feet James Avenue datum.
“City engineers have determined that the number of properties needing sandbag dikes has decreased from 50 to 25,” reads a statement from the City. “The number of sandbags has been reduced accordingly from 75,000 to 20,000. The City currently has enough sandbags made to address the needs of at-risk properties, but will continue making sandbags until the end of today as a precaution.”
Manitoba has a new chief flood forecaster at the helm.
Dr. Fisaha Unduche replaces Phillip Mutulu, who left the province last year to take a job in Alberta after a short stint as the public face of flood-fighting in Manitoba.
Unduche, 38, is a University of Manitoba graduate of flood modelling and mitigation engineering. His hiring comes from within the province, where he has worked for the past five years as the senior water control systems planning engineer.
The province interviewed seven candidates for the nationally-advertised position, four of which were internal.
The federal government has put forward $200 million in helping Manitoba to recover from the devastation caused by the 2011 flood.
Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney, and Shelly Glover, Manitoba’s regional minister, made the announcement Tuesday at the Manitoba legislature.
“The 2011 floods were unprecedented on so many fronts. It was the most disastrous flood this province has ever witnessed. Our government has been there for the citizens of Manitoba, and always will be,” Glover said.
With just days before the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba’s biggest fundraising event of the year, the organization is dealing with a flooded office.
A frozen sprinkler line blew apart Tuesday morning, sending gallons of water pouring through the ceiling at their Donald Street office.
Spokeswoman Rebecca Krowelski said staff are frantically trying to salvage donated items for the gala event, which takes place Thursday at the Winnipeg Convention Centre.
“Workers from the Derksen Group, a major event sponsor, arrived with trucks and rubber boots to salvage the soggy auction items from the Alzheimer Society office,” Krowelski said. “The staff will be working out of the Derksen office over the next few days to pull together the event.”
The event is expected to bring in $260,000 in funding to support the society’s ongoing work.
The society is calling for any contributions to be made online or dropped off at Derksen Plumbing and Heating, 125 Higgins Avenue.
The province lowered the Red River Floodway gates Thursday morning, as there is no longer a need to divert water around the city of Winnipeg.
The gates were raised March 28, but the flood risk this spring remained significantly minor compared to other seasons.
Despite predictions from flood officials that Highway 75 would close, it remained open as river crests came and went around it.
Earlier on Thursday, Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation reopened Provincial Road 217 from #200 to #246. The highway had been closed due to water on the road. #246 from PTH #23 to St. Jean Baptiste was also reopened to traffic after water on the road subsided. One lane for traffic still remains on the Red River Bridge in St. Jean Baptiste, as barriers are still in place.
The city is making sandbags readily available to residents, but before you start panicking, it’s only for precautionary measures.
City crews will begin opening curb inlets, catch basins and culverts on the weekend. Snow, ice accumulations and debris will also be removed from ditches to assist the water run-off. Residents can contact 311 to request the services be performed around their property if necessary.
Where damage to dwellings due to water run-off is imminent, homeowners are asked to contact 311 to help expedite crews to these locations.
Sandbags will be available for residents needing to protect their property from spring melting. Pickup is available between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. daily at 1220 Pacific Avenue, 849 Ravelston Avenue West and 1539 Waverley Street. Identification showing proof of Winnipeg residency will be required. For emergencies, sandbags are available outside the normal hours by contacting 311.
Citizens are urged to check sump pumps and backwater valves on an on-going basis.
To get ahead of the ice jams before they can develop on the Red River, the Province of Manitoba has already put two icebreaking Amphibex machines to work north of Selkirk in Breezy Point. In anticipation for river levels almost as high as last year, officials are hoping to prevent flooding before it has an impact on homes near the river bank.
Water Stewardship Minister Christine Melnick says over $230,000 in additional support has been committed this year for ice-cutting and icebreaking operations.
On Tuesday, the province held a demonstration of the Amphibexes at work, which have been operating since the second week of February.
Warning signs have been placed on the ice to warn people to stay clear. That was the crucial message Minister Melnick wanted to get across Tuesday. The ice isn’t as thick as it was during this time last year. The ice on the Red River ranges from 18 to 28 inches thick, compared to 24 to 36 inches last year. A few kilometres north of Selkirk near Lockport, some ice fishers have already removed their huts from the river, but a few still remain. Nearby, ice-cutting equipment weakens the ice in preparation for the Amphibexes.
The province has budgeted $1 million this year to operate the machinery.