gimli-harbour-flooding

The docks were all underwater at Gimli harbour on Wednesday morning. ((Craig Mackie))

The first order of business for the new council elected in Gimli will be to declare a disaster.

The council members, elected Wednesday, will be sworn in at noon and then make the official declaration in order to access government aid.

Manitoba MLA Peter Bjornson, who represents the riding, located about 80 kilometres north of Winnipeg, promised Thursday to do his best to get disaster financial assistance.

water-crash-gimli3

Water crashes into the wall at the pier in Gimli on Wednesday. ((CBC))

Gimli and the surrounding rural municipality were pounded by gusting winds on Wednesday that drove water from Lake Winnipeg far into shore, swamping streets and yards.

People who live in the area told CBC News they had never seen waves and water as high as it was on Wednesday.

"Everything all washed up along the shore here, right into the yard — rocks as big as coffee tables are right on the land here," said Herman Isfjord, who has lived in the area known as South Beach for more than 30 years.

Water came up over the dike, flooding his neighours' yards and homes and pitching debris into his yard.

A local state of emergency was declared early Wednesday afternoon.

"We had a lake that was charged up on steroids," said Don Emes, the municipal emergency coordinator for Gimli and Winnipeg Beach, noting the lake and the winds have calmed significantly on Thursday.

"We were dealing with waves coming right over and breaching all of the flood prevention measures that were in place — just like they weren't even there."

He said the region is now in a state of recovery with crews trying to pump knee high water off of some roads in the area and repair dikes and shorelines that were damaged.

The causway to Willow Island remains closed because of damage done in the area.

Gimli Mayor Tammy Axelsson said about 80 per cent of residents on Willow Island, just south of the town of Gimli, followed a voluntary evacuation on Wednesday and left their homes.

gimli-flooding-yard

Yards and ditches are flooded in Gimli, which was pounded by gusting winds that drove water from Lake Winnipeg far into shore. ((Meaghan Ketcheson/CBC) )