Wall of ice destroys Manitoba homes, cottages

A local state of emergency has been declared in a western Manitoba municipality after homes in Ochre Beach were destroyed by a wave of lake ice.

Residents 'devastated' after ice from Dauphin Lake pushed ashore

A local state of emergency has been declared in a western Manitoba municipality after homes in Ochre Beach were destroyed and seriously damaged by a wave of lake ice.

Area officials told CBC News the wind pushed built-up ice off Dauphin Lake on Friday evening and caused it to pile up in the community, located on the lake's southern shore.

The piles of ice, which were more than nine metres tall in some cases, destroyed at least six homes and cottages, according to the Rural Municipality of Ochre River.

Another 14 homes suffered extensive damage, with some structures knocked off their foundations.

Clayton Watts, Ochre River's deputy reeve, said it's a miracle no one was hurt.

He told CBC News one minute people were watching hockey in their living rooms, the next they heard something that sounded like a freight train near their homes.

"It happened so quick," said Watts.  "And you can't predict it — not like water that slowly comes up."

Watts said there are several cabins that were completely flattened by the wall of ice that came at them.

"The ice is over top of them, they've been crushed, there's nothing left," he said.

"There are other cabins that have been knocked right off their footings," he continued. "There's ice right over top of some of the cabins, coming over the roof on the other side." 

According to Environment Canada winds were registered at about 80 km/h in the area Friday night.

No insurance coverage for ice damage

Dennis Stykalo, whose cottage is full of ice after Friday night's wind storm, told CBC News his insurance does not cover damage done by ice.

He said he's devastated after the event — he can't even get inside to recover his valuables.

"You know you've got cement, concrete blocks, and steel and the ice goes through it like its just a toothpick," said Stykalo. "It just shows the power. There is nothing you can do, you just get out of the way and just watch."

CBC News also contacted an insurance company in Winnipeg who said generally coverage is not provided for damage to homes caused by shoreline ice build up or water-borne ice.

Same area hit by flood in 2011

The damage is even more traumatic for some, he added, as many of the homes in the area were ruined by flooding in 2011.

Dozens of properties in Ochre Beach and Dauphin Beach were evacuated due to extremely high lake levels that spring.

"They're devastated. Most of these people were hit pretty hard during the flood," said Watts.

"Most of them were just back to the stage where they were back living in their homes again. And now this has happened. So they're pretty devastated right now."

Ochre Beach is about 300 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg and 20 kilometres east of Dauphin.