Manitoba·CITY HALL

Mother Nature is co-operating on flood, say Winnipeg officials

As the spring melt begins to rise Red River water levels, officials monitoring Winnipeg's flood risk told the water and waste committee Wednesday, Mother Nature, so far, is co-operating.

Red River begins to rise in Winnipeg, crest may come later this month

Winnipeg has identified 123 properties at risk of flooding. Sandbags are available at three locations to protect properties. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)

As the spring melt begins to rise Red River water levels, officials monitoring Winnipeg's flood risk told the water and waste committee Wednesday, Mother Nature, so far, is co-operating.

Moira Geer, director of water and waste, updated the committee of four city councillors on the latest preparations in Winnipeg and the city's flood outlook.

Cool, dry weather this spring delivered the best possible scenario for Winnipeg, said Geer.

"That's what you want … a slow melt," she said. "In March, Mother Nature — and so far in April — has co-operated."

Nevertheless, the city is preparing for worst case scenarios. City officials have notified the owners of 123 properties that could see some damage from the flood.

"Public works has been out to visit every property that's been notified as at risk," said Geer.

Sandbags are available at three locations for pickup and public works employees are on hand to help build up protections, she said.

City engineers are also monitoring riverbanks in Winnipeg identified as potentially at risk of collapsing during or after a flood.

Winnipeg expects the Red River to crest in Fargo, N.D., within the next week, Geer said. Normally Winnipeg crests a couple of weeks later — putting the earliest possible date sometime in April. 

Coun. Cindy Gilroy, chair of of the water and waste committee, said she is optimistic about this year's flood outlook but cautioned, Winnipeg shouldn't let its guard down.

"I don't think there's relief until it's over," said Gilroy. "We're waiting for that peak to happen. Once that peak happens, I think we might feel a sigh of relief."

Gilroy said the city is hoping April will continue to look like March — little precipitation and cool nights.

All city councillors will be briefed by engineers with waste and water services — including people who decide when to trigger pumping operations — on Friday.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Laura Glowacki is a reporter based in Ottawa. Previously, she worked as a reporter in Winnipeg and as an associate producer for CBC's Metro Morning in Toronto. Find her on Twitter @glowackiCBC and reach her by email at laura.glowacki@cbc.ca.

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