Ice-breaking wraps up, residents fear it’s not enough
North Selkirk residents fear ice jams could flood their homes
The province’s amphibex machines have finished cutting up ice along the Red River in Winnipeg, but some residents north of Selkirk are worried it won’t be enough to prevent their properties from flooding.
The amphibex machines are a part of Manitoba’s pre-flood fighting effort. The machines are deployed to prevent ice jams along the river, which can send water rushing over banks.
The machines were put to good use this year — the Red River ice was up to 50 per cent thicker in 2013 than in 2012.
Albert Makara owns a property near Breezy Point and is worried the machines won’t be enough to protect his home. He wants to see a permanent dike built.
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Across the river, there is a permanent dike in place, but on his side of the river: nothing.
"[It’s] pretty disappointing. We’ve got nothing, and they got a dike," said Makara.
In 2009, homes on both sides of the Red River where Makara lives had to be evacuated after an ice jam caused major flooding.
"It was unreal. We were never expecting it because it had never ever flooded down here before," said Makara.
Provincial officials released their updated flood forecast in March. The forecast indicated ice jams could be a problem again this year.
The Province of Manitoba and the municipality helped to pay for the permanent dike across the river from Makara’s property, but provincial officials said houses are too far apart on his side of the river to warrant a permanent dike.
Instead, homeowners have been given $80,000 to raise or protect their homes. If the cost runs higher, homeowners will have to foot the rest of the bill.
"We’re paying anywhere in the neighbourhood of $20,000 and up to protect our homes individually — out of our own pocket," said Makara.
"That’s not fair."
The province is taking measures to try and prevent ice jams in the area. For the first time ever, amphibex machines were redeployed to break up ice that was already broken up months ago.
"We don’t want to disturb too much what we’ve done here, but we do want this ice to move out," said Darrell Kupchik, the director of operations for North Red Waterway Maintenance.
"It’s a very careful balancing act." In the meantime, Makara will have to wait to see what happens when waters rise.
"I would say 100 per cent we’re going to have water. It all depends on how much," said Makara.
The province’s flood forecast said the speed of the thaw will play a large part in the risk of flood along the Red River.