Prairie flooding prompts evacuations in western Manitoba

Widespread overland flooding in Saskatchewan and Manitoba has prompted the evacuation of some homes in western Manitoba on Tuesday night.

Total of 87 municipalities in Manitoba, Saskatchewan declare state of emergency

Prairies communities under water

9 years ago
Duration 2:50
87 communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan have declared states of emergency after a brutal rain storm submerged roads and homes

Widespread overland flooding in Saskatchewan and Manitoba prompted the evacuation of some homes in western Manitoba on Tuesday night.

The Rural Municipality of Wallace issued a mandatory evacuation order for an area almost five kilometres south of the Trans-Canada Highway from Kirkella, Man., a community near the Saskatchewan border, east to Road 161W.

Residents in the affected area were urged to leave by 9 p.m. CT, as an influx of water was coming quickly. Evacuees were asked to report to a reception centre in nearby Virden, Man.

It wasn't immediately clear how many people were affected by the municipality's evacuation order.

Earlier in the evening, emergency officials in Virden put out an evacuation order for homes on the south side of Kenderdine Street, south of Highway 257 and east of Scallion Creek.

A washed-out road in the Rural Municipality of Wallace near Kirkella, Man., on Tuesday evening. (Sara Calnek/CBC)
Town officials also warned residents in the trailer court on Queen Street East and within town limits along Scallion Creek to be on high alert.

About 10 to 12 homes have been affected by the mandatory evacuation, while people in another 40 homes are on high alert, the CBC's Caroline Barghout reported from Virden.

Water coming from the west is pushing toward the town and raising existing flood levels.

"We, the RM of Wallace and the Town of Virden, believe strongly that a very strong surge of water has the potential to come our way in the very near future based on compromised infrastructure retaining large amounts of water," emergency officials stated in a news release.

To ease the potential impact of further overland flooding, the municipality will cut Rural Road 157 to allow water to escape, according to officials.

'This is very serious'

Some blue skies returned on Tuesday, but people in eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba were sandbagging, building dikes, pumping out water and protecting homes from the flooding that has damaged roads, filled basements and covered thousands of hectares of cropland in water.

"It's crazy," Scott Wilson, a resident of Virden, said earlier in the day. "It's so disheartening when you just see it rising and rising."

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger toured the flood-affected areas on Tuesday and said the flooding is more severe than it was in the same area last year.

"This is very serious. It's the worst I've seen in several years. We were out here last year for a tornado and overland flooding, but this is more severe and more widespread," Selinger told reporters in Deloraine, Man.

"It's having a huge impact not only on farming, it's having a huge impact on the oil industry out here."

Selinger said he is concerned about the amount of water flowing eastward into Manitoba from Saskatchewan through the river system.

The premier, who also toured the city of Brandon and the community of Melita, said a Manitoba Conservation helicopter will be moved to Brandon to help with any medical emergencies there.

87 states of local emergency declared

In Saskatchewan, 53 communities have declared local states of emergency while in Manitoba, 34 municipalities have done the same.

Flood water was threatening the local hospital in Melville, Sask., on Tuesday morning. (Courtesy Natasha Lepp & Shawn Aichele)
The damage began last weekend when some municipalities received 100 to 200 millimetres of rain.

Near Virden, the bridge on Highway 257 has been closed due to concerns it is unsafe, a situation echoed in various other rural areas.

Crews spent Monday and Tuesday sandbagging while dozens of residents who were forced out of their homes registered at the local evacuation centre.

The Manitoba government said as of Tuesday afternoon, approximately 200 people have had to leave their homes because of the flooding.

Hospital in Melville, Sask., evacuated

Across the border in Saskatchewan, another evacuation was taking place Tuesday.

Amid rising water levels, the hospital and care home in Melville were evacuated. Some 157 patients from both facilities were moved to the hockey rink.

Melville Mayor Walter Streelasky said he regretted having to move patients, but there's no choice. 

"We've got water that's creeping in around our hospital, so we're taking no chances and a full scale evacuation is on," he said. "We've got a tremendous amount of volunteers sandbagging and doing all these things."

CBC Regina said the Red Cross is on its way, but the mayor said in the meantime, more volunteers are needed. 

Parts of Trans-Canada open again

The evacuations come even as the Trans-Canada Highway reopened from Virden to the Saskatchewan border, and clearer skies are in the forecast for flood-affected areas of western Manitoba and southeastern Saskatchewan.

The stretch of the Trans-Canada had been closed due to water over the road. In Manitoba. On the Saskatchewan side, some sections of the Trans-Canada remained under water, including near Wolseley.

The Trans-Canada remains closed between Grenfell, Sask., and Regina, according to information on the Saskatchewan government's website.

The improved forecast provided some good news for residents in more than 60 communities in the two provinces contending with flood waters this week.

Brandon prepares for influx of water

In the western Manitoba city of Brandon, where a state of local emergency remains in effect, crews are getting the city's dikes ready for that eastward influx of water.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger, right, surveys the flooding in Deloraine, Man., on Tuesday afternoon. (CBC)
A newer portion of the dike along 18th Street North will be closed in with clay at Grand Valley Road, blocking traffic in the coming days, according to city officials.

As well, crews will put in clay to close the end of a dike near 18th Street North and Conservation Drive.

Canada Day in Brandon started off with rain, as the city prepared to ask the province to begin a disaster financial assistance program.

Residents are being asked to report damage related to downed trees, basement flooding or overland flooding.

No homes are currently threatened in Melita, but several businesses have received notice that they could be at risk if water levels continue to rise.

"It's been a bit dicey this time," said Mayor Bob Walker.

"We've had big water coming from our creeks, which hasn't always been the issue — it's always been the Souris River that has threatened our dike system."

The province also activated the Red River Floodway Tuesday morning, citing fears about homes in Winnipeg.

In Saskatchewan, the Trans-Canada Highway closure stopped one Saskatchewan Roughrider fan from making it to Monday's game. Steve Laschuk said he had to take refuge at a motel near Wolseley, Sask.

Roads and culverts have collapsed in a number of areas in southeast Saskatchewan due to torrential rains on the weekend. This section of Highway 2 is washed out just south of Imperial, Sask. (Courtesy Mike Beckie)
"It was quite alarming because when we were travelling back from Winnipeg, the whole way until we hit Wolseley — [there] was just torrential downpour," he said. 

He said the motel was later evacuated for fear of flooding.

Laschuk and the other motel guests were taken to the town hall, but he said a family took him and his wife in for the night. 

"Luckily, [we were] put up with a kind family," he said. "A bit of an adventure for a simple weekend away."

Laschuk said townspeople really pulled together to help those who were stranded in the community.