Curiosity, indifference greet flood disaster review
At least one vocal critic of the Manitoba government's management of last year's historic floods says he is glad the official handling of the disaster is being reviewed.
Jay Doering, a civil engineer and dean of graduate studies at the University of Manitoba, has been calling for an independent review of the 2011 flood since the fall.
The Manitoba government announced Wednesday that the 2011 Flood Review Task Force, led by engineer David Farlinger, will look at how flood preparedness, forecasting, communications and flood protection infrastructure were handled last year.
Doering told CBC News he is particularly interested to see what the task force will find on the controversial issue of flood forecasting.
"There were quite a number of examples where the province seemed to struggle with flood forecasting in a way I don't recollect it struggling in previous years," he said.
A separate committee has also been created to review lake levels on Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin.
Both reviews will cost taxpayers an estimated $4 million.
But examining how the province or municipalities fared last year won't be of immediate benefit to the 2,600 people, mostly residents of First Nations communities, who remain homeless as a result of the floods.
Deborah Sumner, her three children and husband have been out of their home in the Lake St. Martin area, living in hotels, for six months. She said a review at this point is just money down the drain.
"It's going to cost a lot of money to repair everything — the roads, the houses, the plumbing. I'd rather see that stuff done," she said.
Others say the true extent of last year's flood damage has yet to be seen.
Annette Viallet and her husband Joseph were forced from their home in the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent. They lived in four different places since then and finally moved into a mobile home last weekend.
However, they are still monitoring their original house, which remains threatened.
"We're still pumping water," said Annette Viallet. "If that pump cuts out, we still have water up to under the plastic underneath the floor in the basement. But if you just drive, you don't realize that. We only know because we have this problem and it keeps us in touch with reality."
The Viallets remain concerned that many Manitobans will be shocked after this spring's thaw and the real extent of the damage becomes visible.