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One family’s flood battle

The Story


The Hamblin family has lived on the same land for generations. And each generation has built a house on higher and higher ground. Chris and Lorne Hamblin built their home on a man-made hill outside Morris soon after the 1979 flood. They never thought they'd have to sandbag. But in April 1997, CBC TV followed the Hamblins as they worked night and day to fortify their property against nature's oncoming assault. Lorne's father, Lloyd, has lived through year after year of floods - 1950, 1966, 1969, 1979. But through them all, he has never had to leave his land. Experience has taught the family how to prepare - filling sandbags, building dikes, hammering in stakes to mark the road. This year will be no exception. The Hamblins mean to stick it out, come hell - or high water.

Medium: Television
Program: The National Magazine
Broadcast Date: April 29, 1997
Guest(s): Chris Hamblin, David Hamblin, Douglas Hamblin, Kevin Hamblin, Lloyd Hamblin, Lorne Hamblin, Dale Hoffman, Ed Kuiper, Roger Lessinger
Host: Hana Gartner, Peter Mansbridge
Reporter: Laurie Brown
Duration: 14:56

Did You know?


• Chris Hamblin was appointed Chief Commissioner for the Canadian Grain Commission in October 2002.
• David Hamblin, coached by his father Lorne, won the junior world curling championship in March 2002. David was the team's skip, his brother Kevin was second and another brother, Douglas, was an alternate.
• In 2002, Lorne Hamblin was still operating his select seed farm near Morris, Man.

• In 1997, a total of 6.5 million sandbags were used in Winnipeg alone.

Helpful hints for filling sandbags:
• Select a good fill material. A sandy soil is ideal. Rocky soils are too permeable. It can be difficult to fill bags with clay.
• Work in pairs. One person should hold the bag while the other shovels in the fill material. Avoid repeated turning or twisting of the back while shovelling. This will only tire you out sooner.
• Fill the bag approximately half full. A full bag may be too heavy to work with.
• Fold the top of the bag over in a triangle. Do not tie the bag shut.

How to build a sandbag dike:
• Remove ice and snow from a strip of land at least as wide as the base of the dike. Removing a strip of sod as well will improve support.
• Do not build a dike against a building wall. Build against a makeshift plywood wall or in a pyramid-like shape.
• If building the dike in a pyramid style, the base of the dike should be three times as wide as its height.
• Lay each bag over the folded top of the preceding bag and stomp it into place.
• Stagger each layer of bags as you would bricks in a wall. Stomp each bag into place.
• Lay plastic sheeting on the ground so that it extends one foot beyond the bottom edge of the dike on the water side, and the other end of plastic extends over the top of the dike.
• Keep the plastic weighted in place with a row of sandbags at the top and bottom edges.
• Avoid puncturing the plastic with sharp objects or by walking on it. Sandbags alone do not provide a watertight seal!


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