Forecast improves, but flooded Minnedosa not in the clear yet

The forecast may be improving in Minnedosa, but that doesn’t mean people in the flooded southwestern Manitoba town can let their guards down just yet.

Southwestern Manitoba town got less rain than forecast, but crews still keeping close eye on dike

An aerial photo shows flooding in the town of Minnedosa, Man., on May 15. The forecast in the community has improved since last weekend. (Submitted by Ian Straker)

The forecast may be improving in Minnedosa, but that doesn't mean people in the flooded southwestern Manitoba town can let their guards down just yet.

"The big rain is behind us. Not time to get complacent, though," Jim Doppler, the town's chief administrative officer, told host Marcy Markusa on CBC's Information Radio Friday morning.

People in Minnedosa were frantically sandbagging and pumping water throughout a downpour Thursday, as the Little Saskatchewan River inched higher.

A rainfall warning had initially forecast 30 to 40 millimetres could fall by Friday morning, raising anxiety levels for residents who were already battling floodwaters.

"Everybody was extra concerned," Doppler said. "The water was starting to pool … and everything's so saturated."

But as of around 4 a.m. Friday, about 20 to 30 millimetres of rain had fallen, Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Fulton said. That rain is now moving east across southern Manitoba.

There's only a 30 per cent chance of showers or flurries forecast for the Minnedosa region for the rest of the day, before a stretch of dry weather warms things back up to normal levels by later next week, Fulton said.

Doppler said for the most part, the dikes set up through Minnedosa held up overnight. A bit of water got through around midnight, but crews have been able to contain it.

Jim Doppler is the chief administrative officer of Minnedosa. He says officials in the southwestern Manitoba town are still monitoring and assessing the flood situation as crews make sure the dike holds up and any water that comes through gets pumped out. (Gilbert Rowan/Radio-Canada)

Though he didn't know if any homes or businesses were flooded overnight, Doppler said for the most part things looked OK Friday morning. People from about 10 homes in the area decided to leave because there was water up to and around their houses, but there were no mandatory evacuation orders, he said.

"As you can imagine, people are wanting to stay as long as they can to fight for their property," Doppler said.

"We are, I would say, winning the battle…. The river is down this morning. I don't have exact readings on it yet, but yes, things are hopefully improving."

And that wouldn't have happened without the outpouring of support Minnedosa has gotten from people both within the community and from well beyond its borders, Doppler said.

On Thursday, Lisa Bilcowski, the volunteer co-ordinator for emergency social services in Minnedosa, said about 1,000 volunteers have helped fill and stack about 50,000 sandbags in the community.

Volunteers in Minnedosa fill sandbags on Tuesday, amid rising water levels in the community. The level of the Little Saskatchewan River was down Friday morning, the town's CAO said. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

"We've had people come from a distance," said Doppler, including a contractor from Saskatchewan.

"Without that, we wouldn't have been in the situation we are now."

Officials are still monitoring and assessing the situation in Minnedosa, as flood crews make sure the dike holds up and any water that comes through gets pumped out, he said. 

He was also glad provincial officals, including Premier Heather Stefanson, got a look at what's happening in the town during a Thursday visit.

That visit also gave town officials a chance to describe how they've addressed the challenges they've faced with recent flooding and what solutions might help in the long term, Doppler said.

With files from Jim Agapito


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