Residents along Lake Manitoba panicked by high water, wind

Wind and high water are once again causing panic for people living along Lake Manitoba.
Lakefront properties at Twin Lakes Beach were surrounded in 2011 by water that was forced inland by gusting winds. (John Bronevitch/CBC)

Wind and high water are once again causing panic for people living along Lake Manitoba.

The Manitoba government has issued a wind warning for the south portion of the lake, from Twin Lakes Beach to the Lynch’s Point area.

Wind speed and direction could raise levels by more than a half-metre and can result in significant impact on shorelines, the warning said, adding that property owners in the area should take precautions.

Mona Sedleski, a councillor in the Rural Municipality of St. Laurent, said the lake is at the same level it was in 2011 when wind storms caused a great deal of devastation.

She says even though people have raised their homes, they are still panicking.

"If there's a wind storm there's just no way we're going to survive, some of these people," she said.

"Our municipality has been hit before. These people cannot handle this again."

Sedleski says there are rumours the Portage Diversion will be opened again and that will raise lake levels even more.

This 29-kilometre channel diverts water from the Assiniboine River, just west of Portage la Prairie, into Lake Manitoba near Delta Beach.

Sedleski and Reeve Earl Zotter have been asking for a meeting with the province to talk about lake levels. They've received a note acknowledging the request but after three weeks they've still not heard anything from Steve Ashton's office about a meeting, she said.

Battered in 2011

Nearly 2,000 people were forced from their homes and cottages and an estimated 700 properties destroyed in 2011.

That year, big waves were forced inland by strong winds, smashing into homes. The waves were more violent because the lake levels were so high — fed by a deluge of floodwater from further south.

The province had been worried about the flooded Assiniboine River possibly causing damage to heavily-populated areas, including Winnipeg, so it used the Portage Diversion to redirect great amounts of the floodwater north to Lake Manitoba.

That made the lake extremely vulnerable to windstorms — a situation being faced by people in the area once again.