Flood outlook: Water could reach highest level since 1997 'Flood of the Century'

The provincial government's second spring flood outlook continues to predict flood levels at or "marginally above" 2009 levels.

Red River Valley communities expected to be hit hardest

Volunteers help build a sandbag dike in efforts to stop the floodwater beside Highway 75 just north of St. Adolphe, Man., in April 2009. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

The provincial government's second spring flood outlook continues to predict flood levels at or "marginally above" 2009 levels.

Communities within the Red River Valley, including Emerson and Morris, are most at risk of flooding, but the province has been in communication with those communities and planning ahead, Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler said Wednesday.

"We're out there, talking to them. They are really clued in and they know exactly what needs to happen," Schuler said.

Water levels at James Avenue in Winnipeg could reach 20.5 feet with unfavourable weather, which is actually lower than the peak of 22.5 feet at James in 2009, the province forecasts.

See a report from the 2009 flood:

Archival video of the flood in 2009

3 years ago
Duration 1:17
Some Manitobans fought to protect their homes during the 2009 flood, Marisa Dragani reports.

Flood forecasters predict the Red River crest will reach Emerson sometime between April 12 and 23, depending on how quickly the snow melts.

They still expect sections of Highway 75 will be closed near Morris.

The province had previously said this year's spring flood along the Red River could be even worse than in 2009, the second highest since the Red River Floodway was constructed, after the 1997 flood of the century.

The flood of 2009 caused just under $7.5 million in damage in Winnipeg and forced hundreds of people out of their homes in southern Manitoba.

Weather co-operating 

Schuler says the weather has co-operated with flood-fighters, with the warm temperatures during the day and cooler nights slowing the melt.

This has helped thin the ice levels on the river, he said.

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler says the weather has co-operated in recent weeks, helping slowly thin ice levels on the Red River. (Lyza Sale/CBC )

"There are some sections of the Red River that are already clear. That's really good news for us because one of the things that we face that is a problem for us as a city is ice dam flooding," he said.

"If we could move the ice out of the city, that would be a really big benefit, and that looks like it's happening."

Bill Spanjer, emergency co-ordinator for the rural municipality of Emerson-Franklin, said the community feels quite prepared for whatever flooding comes its way, after being through several floods over the last few decades. 

The municipality has been steaming culverts open ahead of the melt so water can flow through, ordered extra equipment in case it's needed and is ordering 10,000 sandbags in case residents need them to protect their homes. 

"The water will be high, but there's nothing to worry about, in our opinion," Spanjer said. 

"Most of our residents have been here through several floods. They realize the water comes up and the water comes down, and haven't had need to evacuate. They understand that it's probably more of an inconvenience than anything else."


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