Pounding waves, winds worry cottagers on Manitoba's lakes

Strong winds across Manitoba's big lakes are worrying cottagers close to the roaring and crashing water.
Strong winds across Manitoba's big lakes are worrying cottagers close to the roaring and crashing water. 2:18

A severe wind alert issued for both Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba Friday had cottagers and area residents close to the roaring and crashing water worried.

"I've got over 100 feet of my property in the lake already," said Lilli Schneider, who has lived in the Twin Lakes Beach area since 1967.

"It's wild, the wind is just crazy and we feel very helpless with the destruction that's going to happen again." 

Waves crash Friday morning against the shore at Twin Lakes, on Lake Manitoba. (Courtesy Andy Zubrycki)

In 2011 Schneider's property suffered damage and she moved the house back 24 metres. She said the province spent $250,000 on repairs for her property alone.

"You can spend all the money you want," said Schneider. "But if you don't lower the lake, the damage is going to happen again."

Andy Zubrycki, who also lives at Twin Lakes Beach on the southeast shore of Lake Manitoba, said the wind and pounding waves are wearing down some of the rocks and sand set up to protect properties like his.

"You can see the water really smashing up against some of the rocks where the cottages are because of the high water levels," he said on Friday morning.

"The cottages are now very much closer to the lake than they usually are, so you can really see the spray."

Jim Townsend, Emergency Coordinator for the RM of Woodlands, said so far there hasn't been much damage to properties this year from the wind, but he remains concerned about the potential for flooding.

"Not so much waves coming over the geotubes, but water coming around the tubes, because these won't stop flood waters – they only stop the waves," said Townsend.

Strong winds, approaching gale strength in some places, swept across Manitoba's big lakes Friday morning. (Environment Canada)
​Lake Manitoba, swollen by summer flooding and still recovering from record levels in 2011, sits at 814.2 feet. Flood stage is 814 feet.

Zubrycki said his home is high and protected but he worries about some of the cottages closer to the water.

If it wasn't for the dikes and rocks piled on the beach for protection, the water would be reaching many of the cottages, he said.

Meanwhile, Schneider said she and others are stuck waiting out the waves, fearful of what high waters could accompany the next big winds that blow over her lakefront property.

"We're sort of stuck here at this point in time, because as a permanent resident you can't really sell your property, and they're promising to lower the lake – so we're just waiting,"