Need for sandbaggers in Minnedosa grows during ‘absolutely terrifying’ flood, business owner says – CBC.ca

Basements are flooded, businesses are in jeopardy and students are learning remotely because the school in Minnedosa, Man., is surrounded by water, a town official says.

Flooding around the southwestern Manitoba town and rain in the forecast pushed local officials to declare a state of emergency on Tuesday, which gives the town greater authority to respond to problems caused by the flooding.

Minnedosa chief administrative officer Jim Doppler said about a dozen homes had basement flooding as of Tuesday afternoon.

“It’s absolutely terrifying,” said Krista Powell, co-owner of Gold Leaf Boutique in Minnedosa. “Yesterday, we were behind the store … and as we were putting the sandbags higher the water just kept rising.”

Powell closed the store, four doors down from the bloated river, last Thursday. On Monday, amid worsening conditions, she began hauling goods from the building, just in case.

krista powell co owner of gold leaf boutqiue in manitoba

Krista Powell, co-owner of Gold Leaf Boutique, steps over a growing wall of sandbags with goods from her store in Minnedosa on Tuesday. (Travis Golby/CBC)

She is encouraged by an outpouring of support from the community. On Monday a football team and group from two Hutterite colonies pitched in with sandbagging.

“As soon as someone puts a call out everyone shows up,” she said. “It’s just absolutely amazing to see the community come together.… It makes it feel a little bit better. Still terrifying.”

Environment Canada is forecasting rain beginning as early as Tuesday and continuing until Friday. The weather system could bring 20 to 50 millimetres of rain to southern Manitoba over the next five days.

People with homes in low-lying areas are being warned they may need to leave. There are about 30 homes in immediate danger of evacuation, Doppler said.

WATCH | Aerial video shows flooding around Minnedosa, Man.:

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Aerial video shows flooding around Minnedosa, Man.

This aerial footage shows of flooding around the town of Minnedosa on Sunday, May 15, 2022. (Submitted by Ian Straker)

The fire department has begun door-to-door delivery of notices of potential evacuation, and a support centre for evacuees has been opened at the Minnedosa District Arena at 19 Second Ave. N.W. The support centre will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The town has requested more support from the provincial government, and an emergency manager and engineer were expected to arrive Tuesday morning.

Officials also requested 2,000 super sandbags, 40,000 small sandbags and additional pumps. In an update issued shortly before noon Tuesday, the town said sandbags and pumps had arrived.

The update also said water levels had held steady overnight. 

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Groups pitch in to sandbag a property in Minnedosa on Tuesday. (Travis Golby/CBC)

The town, which is about 200 kilometres west of Winnipeg, put out a call for volunteers to help sandbag along the Little Saskatchewan River.

Volunteers are needed to help load, unload, haul and stack an additional 30,000 sandbags to protect homes and other buildings and infrastructure.

Sandbagging volunteers were asked to report to Town of Minnedosa public works shop, a Tuesday Facebook post said.

Lisa Bilcowski, the volunteer co-ordinator for emergency social services in Minnedosa, said the river started rising and spilling its banks on Thursday and the plan Tuesday was to reinforce barriers that volunteers put in place earlier.

“We’re looking at possibly putting out another 30,000 sandbags, so we’re looking for people to fill sandbags. We’re looking for people to work at reinforcing those sandbag barriers,” she said.

Sandbagging crews spent the weekend shoring up defences along Minnedosa Lake, which rose four inches Saturday morning.

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The Town of Minnedosa put out a call for volunteers to help sandbag as more rain is forecast this week. (Danna Harvey/Facebook)

The province also plans to remove logs from the Minnedosa dam, which holds back water at the south end of Minnedosa Lake. 

“The province wants to lower water levels in anticipation of precipitation over the next few days,” Doppler said.

For each log the province removes, the water level will rise three inches, Doppler said.

“So it’ll be a managed effort. They’re not taking all the logs at once. They’ll take a few and then hopefully we can control the flow and contain the spillover.”

jim doppler cao of minnedosa

Jim Doppler is the chief administrative officer of the town of Minnedosa. (Gilbert Rowan/Radio-Canada)

Crews are working around the clock to pump water while managing the stormwater and sewer system, officials said, asking residents to limit use of showers, washing machines and dishwashers to minimize the possibility of sewer backup.

The province issued an overland flood warning for the Parkland region on Monday as a result of recent rainfall combined with snowmelt from higher elevations.

There are now 39 municipalities that have declared states of local emergency, not including First Nations, the province said in an update on Tuesday.

These communities have now declared states of emergency, according to the province, in addition to the 30 that had previously done so:

  • Barrows.
  • Camperville.
  • Duck Bay.
  • RM of Glenella-Lansdowne.
  • RM of Lakeshore.
  • Town of Minnedosa.
  • Municipality of Minitonas-Bowsman     
  • Municipality of Mossey River.
  • RM of Mountain.

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Volunteers are asked to help sandbagging efforts to protect properties in the town of Minnedosa. (Submitted by Ian Straker)