City error sends sewage into Winnipeg basements
Storm breaks heat wave that set new Canadian record
People living along Assiniboine Avenue in St. James are mopping up and assessing the damage after their sewers backed up during Wednesday night's thunderstorm, apparently due to a city error.
City crews working on a pumping station in the area had closed a gate in a combined sewer system to prevent sewage from flowing into the Assiniboine River, officials said.
But the gate was not reopened before the storm hit, causing sewage to back up into people's basements.
'Ifour gate was closed, it seems clear that it's our responsibility.'—Barry MacBride City of Winnipeg
"Basically I walked through the basement and water was gushing up— filthy water— past my knees," said Nicole Sibilleau, whose home was one of the first to see water.
"Appliances are floating higgledy-piggledy, and the fan to my dehumidifier is making a strange sound. I'm afraid to go in there."
Barry MacBride, director of the city's water and waste department, says crews are in the area assessing the damage.
"The way it works in the city is we have a separate arms-length claims department who makes the final judgment on those things. But if our gate was closed, it seems clear thatit's our responsibility," he said.
"We'll have our claims people out there today. We'll be trying to find out the actual dollar value of all these claims, and trying to deal with them on a one-by-one, case-by-case basis."
Most of the affected residents were able to remain in their homes.
City officials are still trying to determine why the gate was left closed.
Power out for thousands
Meanwhile, power is back on for about 2,000 Manitoba Hydro customers left in the dark during Wednesday's storms.
"The difficulty with last night was that it was just so widespread and in pockets. It wasn't clustered together," said spokesman Jim Peters.
Crews were working at sites in virtually every area ofWinnipeg.
"It's easier to describe who was not affected: Transcona and River East were fairly unscathed," he said.
"We had a lot of tree branches and things making contact with power lines… numerous spotty outages throughout."
Storm broke record-breaking heat
The storm system that blew through southern Manitoba Wednesday night brought with it lower temperatures and humidityto the area, where a heat wave has beenmelting previoushot-weatherrecords for days.
The town of Carman, Man., 75 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, set a new Canadian record for humidex values.
The humidex reading in Carman soared to 53 C— that's 127 F— Wednesday afternoon.
The previous record was set in Windsor, Ont., in 1953, when the humidex reached 52.1.
Humidex readings give the perceived temperature, calculated based on actual temperature and humidity. Environment Canada considers humidex readings above 45 "dangerous," while heat stroke is considered "imminent" when the humidex is over 54.
Several hot-weather records were set earlier this weekin northern Manitoba. Gillam reached 34, smashing a three-decade record of 29. Thompson, Norway House and Island Lake also set new records.
Temperatures forecast for Manitoba Thursday were closer to the average for the region, around 26 C, although extreme heat is expected to return on the weekend.