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Red River Flood aftermath: the Hamblin family

The Story


This was a flood unlike all the others. This was the year flood officials forced the Hamblin family to evacuate their farm. After all their diking and all their preparations, Lorne's house made it but not everyone was so lucky. On CBC TV, the Hamblin family talks about the cleanup it's facing and the race to get in a partial crop. Meanwhile, in Ste. Agathe damages are still being assessed and rural residents have started asking the big question: Were they sacrificed to save Winnipeg?

Medium: Television
Program: The National Magazine
Broadcast Date: June 19, 1997
Guest(s): Harold Clayton, Gary Filmon, Chris Hamblin, Lloyd Hamblin, Lorne Lorne, Louis Robert, Bob Stefaniuk, Susan Thompson
Host: Terence McKenna
Producer: Laurie Brown
Duration: 14:41

Did You know?


• At the height of the flood, the Red River was the largest river in North America and covered nearly 2000 square kilometres - an area equivalent to the size of Prince Edward Island.
• Without the floodway, it's estimated that the crest would have been 16.3 feet above channel capacity. That's four feet higher than in 1950 and sufficient to cover every inch of Winnipeg.

• About 800 homes suffered flood damage in Manitoba - 100 of them beyond repair.
• Total damages are estimated at $150 million. Damages avoided due to the floodway and emergency diking are estimated at $6 billion.
• A total of 28,000 people were evacuated from the flood region: 6,000 from Winnipeg and about 22,000 from rural areas.
• The first of the evacuated Winnipeggers were allowed home on May 8. Residents of Ste. Adolphe, Morris, and St. Jean Baptiste had to wait until May 18.

When evacuees returned home, flood workers would do the following:
- escort them to the fire hall or other designated centre to register;
- escort them to their home;
- inspect the home with the owner, making sure they had water and gas; and
- give the residents occupancy tags to be worn whenever they were out.

• By late September some Manitobans still couldn't return home due to extensive flood damage. They were facing a long cold winter living in mobile homes and trailers.
• Many people rebuilt their homes on man-made hills.
• In 1997, the Manitoba government was offering homeowners a maximum of $100,000 in flood compensation but some complained that wouldn't cover the structural damage to their homes, let alone the cost of furnishings.

• In order to force water into the floodway channel, the floodway gates restrict water going through the river. However, this narrowing of the river channel also causes water to back up south of Winnipeg.
• On Aug. 14, 1998, the Manitoba government released a report admitting that because of the Winnipeg Floodway at least one community - Grande Pointe - suffered flood levels above what was predicted.

• As a result, the government did away with the cap on compensation. About 200 people were then eligible for more flood relief money.
• The provincial government rejected the claim that the Brunkild dike caused the flooding of Ste. Agathe.
• The floodway was built 29 years before the 1997 flood, when the population distribution of the flooded area was different. In late 2002, the Manitoba government vowed to modernize their floodway operating rules to better protect more homes.


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