Lake Manitoba flood threat too much for some residents
St. Laurent officials calling on province to offer residents buy-out options
The flood fight is underway along Lake Manitoba, but some residents say the threat of more water — three years after the area was flooded — is too much for them to bear.
Crews have piled more than 12,000 super-sandbags along the beaches in the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent as of Friday.
Lake Manitoba is at the flood stage, albeit not at the same levels as the 2011 flood, but municipal officials are determined not to have a repeat of what happened three years ago.
But some in the area are packing it in, including Evi and Frank Bruce, whose flower and gift shop barely survived the effects of the 2011 flood.
The Bruces say just as sales were finally starting to rebound, the threat of another disaster hit and their customers stopped coming in.
"People are busy sandbagging. They're not going to come and buy a gift for their cottage or home," Frank Bruce said Friday.
Said Evi, "You're not decorating your home because it might be under water next week, so why spend the money?"
Selling homes a challenge
The stress of another flood has some residents trying to offload their properties.
Municipal Coun. Mona Sedleski wants to sell her home, but she said it hasn't been easy.
For example, she said a home on her street that was assessed at $300,000 sold for just $90,000 after the last flood.
"We're stuck here. We can't get out. We can't get the money out of our properties," she said.
Sedleski and St. Laurent Reeve Earl Zotter are calling on the Manitoba government to offer area residents the option of a buy-out.
"There needs to be assurances to people living along this lake that they can at least be compensated for what they're losing," Zotter said.
Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton visited St. Laurent on Friday not to talk about buy-outs, but to assure municipalities along Lake Manitoba that they're not forgotten in the provincial flood fight.
"We're going to be there in terms of the disaster financial assistance program and any other kind of assistance they need," Ashton said.
But for Evi and Frank Bruce, the government's promise comes too little too late. While they were not flooded in 2011, they have lost much of their business.