Residents along Twin Beach Road worked hard to protect their properties from flooding, but their efforts proved no match for a storm packing 90 km/h winds on rain-swollen Lake Manitoba.
The storm hit on Tuesday, damaging numerous properties in the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent — Twin Lakes Beach, Laurentian Beach, Delta Beach, and Sandpiper Beach.
David Sawicky said Wednesday he had to wade into rising floodwaters at his home to rescue his father and his dog.
Still, Sawicky said, he didn't expect the damage to his property to be that bad.
'I have seen everything along the south side destroyed. And the water keeps coming.' —Larry Muirhead, Delta Beach resident
"I got a big ice shack — within 10, 15 minutes it was destroyed, in pieces, whatever was in there all over the place," he said.
Larry Muirhead, a permanent resident in Delta Beach for 21 years, said the damage is immense.
"I have seen everything along the south side destroyed. And the water keeps coming," he said.
He's lost much of his property and one more storm will knock his home off its footings. Muirhead is not sure when he'll be able to get back to his home, or whether he'll have to rebuild somewhere else.
"Well, I've got to start thinking about that but my problem is this compensation package [from government], I believe, only works if you rebuild out there. Well, what if I've got no place to rebuild on?" he said.
Daniel Fortier thought his Twin Lakes Beach home was protected. With the help of neighbours, he built a dike and had three pumps going at his Twin Beach Road home.
'Looking down my road it looked like a wave — like a big tidal wave coming down my front road.' — Mike Hunter, St. Laurent resident
When he got the call at work that floodwaters had breached the dike, Fortier said, he rushed back to find water pouring into his basement. He only had a half an hour before he was forced to leave.
"And we were just barely able to leave," he added. "We had to walk over a quarter of a mile through water that was about to our chests."
What was especially discouraging, Fortier said, was that residents and cottage owners had worked hard to prepare for the disaster, with neighbours banding together to build dikes that, in the end, failed to protect them.
"We were doing one a day, I think, and we're all so sore from lifting sandbags and diking and helping everybody prepare for this," Fortier said. "And then in a few minutes it was all gone, just washed away. It was like it was all for nothing."
Some evacuees from the flood zone have moved into hotels in Winnipeg.
Mike Hunter was scrambling on Wednesday to make a Winnipeg hotel home for his family of six. He said he watched in horror as the flood approached his St. Laurent home.
"Looking down my road it looked like a wave — like a big tidal wave coming down my front road. Like, we're about two miles from the lakefront. Within four hours it was from the lakefront to our front door."
Hunter said he had almost no time to pack for his family when the evacuation order was issued.
"It was just chaos, the town was just chaos," he said. "It was like, holy smokes, everybody's running because the water's coming so fast. Everybody's just running from the beach and getting away.
'It was like it was all for nothing.' — Daniel Fortier on flood preparations
Vicki Leggett found the experience terrifying.
"Just saw, like, pieces of property floating down the way," she said. "People were trying to get out they had boats trying to get people out
Heather Lambert says the worst part of the experience will occur when people return home and see the devastation.
"It's just, it's just very sad … everything that they've worked for is gone," she said.
Dauphin Lake damage
In Dauphin Lake, property owners could only watch as waves reaching nearly two metres destroyed dikes and decks and moved cottages off their foundation.
Lorne Perche wants the province to call in the army to build dikes. The lake is 1.5 metres higher than normal and he's worried more flooding will occur when the next storm comes.
"Everybody here needs more help," Perche said. "They gotta get it to us with these, maybe, large sandbags in certain areas, or man-power or both. They gotta come through."
On Wednesday, provincial officials said it could be months before evacuees will be able to return to their property.