Southwest Manitoba communities under states of emergency as 'weather bomb' threatens homes

The municipality of Minto-Odanah in Manitoba and the Minnedosa's mayor have both declared a local state of emergency in the region due to heavy rains and high waters, as more stormy weather advances on the region.

Minnedosa resident Kelvin Jones is one of dozens who left their homes due to storms

Dozens of roads in the rural municipality of Minto-Odanah were washed out due to overland flooding. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Hundreds of properties have been damaged and dozens of roads are washed out after at least two storms hit southwest Manitoba on Sunday.

The municipality of Minto-Odanah and Minnedosa both declared a local state of emergency on Tuesday due to heavy rains and high waters.

The Little Saskatchewan River Valley remains flooded from the storm, which has forced dozens of people to evacuate.

Kelvin Jones, who lives in the area, lost his home and camper trailer to the storm.

"We voluntarily got out because there's nothing we could do," he said.

Jones believes he's lucky his home did not get swept up by the fast-moving waters.

Kelvin Jones' trailer tipped into the Little Saskatchewan River in Minnedosa. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

Minnedosa Mayor Pat Skatch said the storms caused major damage, washing out roads, flooding basements and destroying a footbridge in the town, which is located about 200 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

Some businesses have had to shut down until further notice, Skatch said, though she didn't have an estimate of how many.

"We're just not in a pretty place right at the moment," she said.

Environment Canada warned of the potential for more severe weather on Tuesday night.

Thunderstorms with heavy rain, strong wind and hail were approaching southwestern Manitoba late in the evening, before moving toward the Red River Valley overnight.

Doug Dowsett, reeve of Minto-Odanah, which surrounds the town of Minnedosa., says overland flooding washed out dozens of roads in the area.

The water came in fast, damaging roads all over the municipality, he said.

This footbridge over the Little Saskatchewan River in Minnedosa was destroyed by debris. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

"It started with a huge rainfall," he said. "It just blew our roads out."

The roads were so damaged that the community was having trouble getting firefighters and ambulances into the area, he said.

Dowsett said he has "never ever" seen anything like this.

"We may not be able to get this all fixed before winter … so we're trying [to] assess what roads we should start on," Dowsett said, with school bus routes a factor in the decision-making.

Dowsett commended residents for their composure and willingness to help each other. If another storm hits, he asked that the less than 1,200 people living in the area have patience during the recovery effort.

Now he hopes the government will provide disaster assistance to help with repairs.

"Miles and miles and miles" of roads in the RM of Minto-Odanah are washed out like the one depicted, said reeve Doug Dowsett. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

The rural municipality would have to ask for help in order to receive it, the province said Tuesday afternoon.

Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler travelled around the area to review the damage and speak with officials. He said the province brought in emergency measures and infrastructure staff, including five trailers of equipment and water tubes.

"It's not their first rodeo, but we're here to help them in any way we can," he said in Minnedosa.

He's worried about another "weather bomb" brewing in the waterlogged region Tuesday evening.

A swampy yard in Minnedosa on Tuesday after torrential rains. (Bartley Kives/CBC)

The rural municipality of Oakview, northwest of Brandon, already declared a state of emergency early Monday morning. The city of Brandon was also hit with heavy rain and is preparing for the potential for more flooding.

Manitoba government officials said they may have to operate the Portage Diversion floodway later this week to limit water flow in the lower stretch of the Assiniboine River, between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg.

As of Monday afternoon, the Assiniboine River watershed, which includes the areas near Brandon and Minnedosa, had recorded close to 155 millimetres of precipitation in 24 hours, the province said in a news release.

With files from Sam Samson, Heather Wells and Bartley Kives


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