Red River Floodway opens, while city recruits sandbaggers

The Manitoba government raised the Red River Floodway's gates on Monday evening, while Winnipeg city officials are looking for sandbaggers to help protect homeowners.
The Red River Floodway's gates opened at around 6 p.m. Monday. (CBC)

The Manitoba government and the City of Winnipeg each announced flood prevention measures on Monday.

The province activated the Red River Floodway's gates just before 6 p.m., as the river levels continue to rapidly rise in southern Manitoba, while the city said it is in need of sandbaggers to protect homeowners in southern Winnipeg.

As of 8 a.m. Monday, levels upstream of the floodway had risen 6.6 feet since 8 a.m. the previous day.

They are expected to continue rising at a similar rate due to increasing flows from tributaries, according to a press release from the Manitoba government.

The level at the James Avenue pumping station in Winnipeg, where monitoring is done, was 14.2 feet as of 8 a.m. Monday. James Avenue water levels could reach 16.5 to 17.5 feet by Tuesday morning, the release stated.

James Ave. markers

  • 0 m/ft – "normal" winter level
  • 2 m (6.5 ft) normal summer water level
  • 5.5 m (18 ft) initial flood stage – begin to sandbag properties
  • 5.8-6 m (19 to 20 ft) typical spring flood
  • 6.9 m (22.6 ft) – 2009 flood peak
  • 7.5 m (24.5 ft) – 1997 flood peak
James explained in video

In accordance with floodway operating rules, the horn was sounded at the inlet control structure at 5:30 p.m., 30 minutes before operation of the gates.

Boaters are advised to avoid using any waterways until all ice has cleared and river levels return to normal.

"There is also the potential for turbulent waters at or near the outlet structure north of Winnipeg. Boaters are advised to avoid travel in the vicinity of the floodway and any other water control structure," the province stated in a news release.

Later Monday night, at about 11 p.m., the province also began operating the Portage Diversion to lower the levels on the rising Assiniboine River.

The flood control structure redirects water from the Assiniboine through a 29-kilometre channel that starts near Portage la Prairie and runs north to Lake Manitoba.

City recruits sandbag volunteers

The City of Winnipeg is hoping citizens will step up to help with sandbagging efforts.

City officials put the call out on Monday, asking people to volunteer their time to sandbag near a small number of properties in southern Winnipeg.

They said water on the Red River is rising quickly in the city, particularly in south Winnipeg since Sunday.

City flood planning officials said there were seven low-lying properties in south Winnipeg that needed small dikes in place by nightfall.

About 6,500 sandbags were delivered to the property owners Monday, but volunteers were needed to put them in place Monday night and Tuesday morning.

About 10 more property owners in south Winnipeg were put on notice in case river levels continued to rise on Tuesday.

Anyone would was available to volunteer was asked to call 311 for more information.

City warns residents of basement flooding

City officials asked residents to take special precautions to protect their homes from basement flooding as water levels on the Red River are rising in the city.

When water levels are high, the city’s sewer system can handle less water, officials explained.

If the city sees rain, the sewers could back up into house sewer lines and flow into basements that aren’t protected.

Homeowners were advised to have valve and sump pits with pumps in place, inspect their backup valves and sump pump drainage systems and ensure their drainage was direct away from their homes by pointing downspouts away from their basements.

Those who lived near the river should also move or secure any structures near the water’s edge.