Spring flooding could cost more than $10M, Manitoba minister says

Manitoba has launched a disaster financial assistance program for those hit by spring flooding.

26 Manitoba communities have declared local states of emergency

People sandbag a home on Peguis First Nation, where the Fisher River has spilled its banks, flooding a broad area of Manitoba's low-lying northern Interlake region. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

Manitoba has launched a disaster financial assistance program for those hit by spring flooding.

The aim is to help alleviate the burden that residents, municipalities, non-profits, small businesses and farmers have felt, said Johanu Botha, head of Manitoba's Emergency Management Organization.

"We recognize the tremendous efforts Manitobans and their communities have put into disaster response and recovery this spring," he said at a news conference Monday.

"The DFA program provides financial assistance for certain losses when a widespread natural disaster, like the one we are currently facing, strikes and creates an unreasonable financial burden. Spring flooding and rain in certain parts of the province this year certainly qualifies."

The province is continually monitoring damages to infrastructure — roads, highways, culverts — but won't be able to fully assess it until the water levels go down.

The estimated cost continues to grow, Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk said.

"We are anticipating that costs related to the spring flood may exceed more than $10 million," he said.

Manitobans are encouraged to check with their insurance providers about their policy coverage before applying for disaster financial assistance, said Botha. Insurable costs, such as sewer backup, are not covered by the program.

As well, some Manitobans may have purchased overland flood insurance. If they have that, those costs will not be covered by disaster financial assistance, either.

All non-insurable losses and damages to basic and essential property, response costs and infrastructure damage are covered, Botha said.

Eligible expenses are those that have occurred, are now occurring and those that happen over the next few weeks.

"We will not be looking only at costs that have already occurred," Botha said.

A house is surrounded by sandbags and a vehicle sits partially submerged in floodwater on Peguis First Nation. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

People can check the province's website for more information about eligibility or to apply, or email

Swamped by multiple snow and rain storms in April, Manitoba is now experiencing significant flooding through the Red River Valley and the Interlake region.

In total, 26 communities have declared local states of emergency.

Flooding on Peguis First Nation is believed to be the worst the Interlake community has ever seen, with the swollen Fisher River spilling its banks and forcing roughly 1,600 of the community's 3,500 people to evacuate.

Well over 700 homes are affected by the floodwater, with more than 200 almost completely surrounded.

Farther south, the crest of the Red River is now making its way north into Manitoba.

The U.S. National Weather Service said the peak is at Pembina, N.D., and Emerson, Man., reaching a level about three inches below the 2009 flood peak of 52.71 feet, which was the worst since the flood of the century in 1997.

Flood forecasters in Manitoba are now keeping a close eye on a series of precipitation systems that could bring 40 to 60 millimetres of rain to much of the province over the next five to seven days.

There's also a high chance some areas will get more than 60 millimetres of rain, the province said in a flood bulletin on Saturday afternoon.