A mandatory evacuation notice was issued for part of Delta Beach on Sunday evening as rising water made the area unsafe for residents.
The situation has infuriated some people in the area, located at the southern tip of Lake Manitoba, which was hit hard by flooding in 2011. Many are still dealing with the effects from all the water directed their way.
“The mood is both angry and disappointed. Angry that this is happening again, disappointed in the government that they have allowed this to happen," said Don Clarkson, a permanent resident and president of the Delta Beach Association.
"This is 100 per cent preventable."
Andy Fletcher, who has lived in the Delta Beach area for 21 years, says he and his wife are staying put for now, even though the rising water is creating a lot of stress for them.
"It's a lot of these feelings in your stomach where you can't really understand what's going on, and you know it's serious. So it's a concern, a real big concern to myself and my wife," he said Monday.
Fletcher said he plans to watch the water levels, adding that he and his wife can get out of their home quickly if the situation gets worse.
During the spring and into the summer of 2011, the province struggled to contain the swollen Assiniboine River by operating the Portage Diversion well over its capacity.
Surge in lake levels caused damage
The 29-kilometre channel starts at an inlet near Portage la Prairie and moves water from the river into Lake Manitoba.
The amount of water it fed into Lake Manitoba caused a surge in the lake's levels and resulted in considerable damage when spring storms whipped up waves that slammed into homes and cottages.
The high levels have flowed into Lake St. Martin, causing similar problems for people living near there.
In an attempt to lower the lake levels, the province has carved out a half-kilometre-long channel to redirect water from Lake St. Martin to Big Buffalo Lake, where it flows into the Dauphin River and eventually into Lake Winnipeg,
Clarkson was forced out of his home in the 2011 flood for 14 months.
This time around, his home on the east side in Delta Beach, is not under the mandatory evacuation. But he is nonetheless upset with the province for not better protecting people from the lake levels.
He said the government should have dug a second channel out of Lake Manitoba into the Fairford River to lower the levels more, and more quickly.
The mandatory evacuation in Delta Beach, which is part of the RM of Portage la Prairie, affects 16 permanent homes and 104 seasonal cottages.
The RM’s website cited “escalating concerns over safety and access” to the area.
'I just really feel for these people. They've gone through so much in the past few years.' - Kam Blight, reeve of RM of Portage
Reeve Kam Blight said Sunday there's concern that when the province increases the amount of water flowing in the Portage Diversion on Monday, the water could spill over the top of the east dike at the south basin of Lake Manitoba, filling the marsh and blocking off road access to Delta Beach.
He said to ensure people's safety, the RM is asking them to leave.
"Yes, it's mandatory. We have asked people to leave," he said.
"There's a great unknown and we don't know exactly what's going to happen. The province isn't sure exactly where the water's going to go or what it's going to do — if it will even overtop the dike at all."
Blight admitted he's worried, given that some of the residents were forced out in 2011, as well.
'The province came to us this afternoon and expressed their concerns.' - Kam Blight
"Naturally, yes, of course I am," he said.
"I just really feel for these people. They've gone through so much in the past few years and I just wish we could snap our fingers and this was all over and we could move on.
"But, we're going to get through this."
Blight said it happened pretty quickly Sunday, with the province notifying the RM about the increased flows and its concern.
"The province came to us this afternoon and expressed their concerns, the escalating concerns," he said.
"Some of the indications are that they want to start increasing the flows into the diversion and to the Assiniboine River and instead of taking any chances they much prefer us get the people out of there tonight."
The mandatory evacuation comes just hours after Infrastructure minister Steve Ashton said that though the water levels on the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg were expected to be higher than they were in 2011, he didn't expect the kind of damage that people on the lakes saw in 2011.
'It's not going to be a fun summer. It's going to be a storm-by-storm basis for us.' - Jennifer Dyck, Delta Beach cottage owner
"We're looking at a short term surge of water that will have some significant impact in the Assiniboine watershed but this will not — unless there's a change in the weather — have a significant impact in terms of Lake Manitoba and Lake St. Martin," he said in a Sunday afternoon debriefing.
But Delta Beach cottage owner Jennifer Dyck questions that statement.
"I guess it'd be interesting to know if he's been to Lake Manitoba, cause it's high," she said. "We were there for a storm earlier this week and the water is high. It's not going to be a fun summer. It's going to be a storm-by-storm basis for us. And we're just really disappointed that the water and the lake is this high."
Evacuation notice not a surprise
In addition to Dyck's cottage, her parents live permanently in Delta Beach. She also said the evacuation notice was not a surprise.
"On Friday we heard rumblings that this was going to be coming and the lake was already too high going into this," Dyck said. "It's now high and will continue to get higher."
Dyck said her family lost a lot of frontage and trees in 2011. She's mainly worried now about friends who live there permanently who were forced out of their homes in 2011.
"We're sad. We're frustrated. And we just have a lot of unknowns," she said.