It was very traumatic because the bridge has been a part of Souris for over 100 years.
—Glen Kirby, filmmaker
It was a tough decision to take down the swinging bridge in Souris, Manitoba in 2011 but it had to be done to save that community from flooding.
Two years later, the bridge is set to reopen but it has been a long, tough haul for the community.
How people persevered in the face of this tragedy, is the topic of a new documentary by Manitoba award-winning filmmaker Glen Kirby.
Filmmaker Glen Kirby (Kirby)
Kirby was inspired to make the film because of thestory. "People versus nature, neighbour helping neighbour," he explains. "It's the coming together of residents in the face of adversity to protect their community and ordinary people pushed into some extraordinary circumstances. So from a filmmaker's perspective, all the right elements were there for a compelling story."
It's also personal for Kirby. He grew up in Souris and was a high school student during one of the big floods in 1976 and he helped sandbag back then. "Through my life I've always wanted to share my feelings and experiences of that time with others," he says. "So I'm going to be telling the story of the 2011 flood. It won't be my recollections from my time, but rather fresh stories from those people who have just gone through the more recent flood."
2011 flooding in Souris (CBC)
He adds, "it was very traumatic because the bridge has been a part of Souris for over 100 years. It's been a tourist attraction. It's been part of the fabric of the local landscape, a fixture of that town. So when the decision was made by the people in charge of the flood fighting efforts to cut down the bridge, they didn't want to broadcast it so that a crowd would be there to watch it. It was a very emotional time for all concerned."
Kirby has some never-before-seen footage of the bridge coming down and lots of first hand stories from people in the community. "There were volunteers who went days without sleeping, helping friends protect their properties against a flood that peaked three times between April and July. There were people who had to be evacuated from their family home of 50 years. There's the loss of 1000 trees in the area...and the dedicated effort from townspeople to reconstruct their lives and their community. For me, in some ways, it's almost cathartic."The film is expected to air in January 2014 on MTS.