While Spring is usually an eagerly anticipated time of year in most places, here in Manitoba, it means flood season. And this year is by all standards a bumper year when it comes to water.
And this is a good week or so before the two rivers crest. Yes, I said two. We have The mighty Red, which is the only major waterway that flows south to north here on this continent. This direction means it goes from warmer to colder in the spring. That means ice jams along the way, which cause the water to back up and spill overland. And right in downtown Winnipeg, the Red intersects with the Assiniboine, which travels west to east.
The local newspaper sent one of its editors, along with a camera man, to have a look-see at what parts of the area outside of Winnipeg look like. Hundreds of roads have been closed because of overland flooding. At least two people have died from driving on flooded roads and getting swept away. (Condolences to their families, but how stupid do you have to be?) Hundreds of people have been evacuated because of rising waters threatening homes, or just from being cut off by the flood waters.
http://bcove.me/1ir8uq7g (Red River Valley flood zone April 20/11)
In 1950, there was a terrible flood in Winnipeg. Much the same kind of thing, caused by the spring thaw, with a good portion of this city under water. The then premier ordered the building of the Floodway to move water around the city. Since then, there have been ring dikes built around towns and farms all over the southern portion of the province. There is a diversion canal to take water from the Assinibione River to Lake Manitoba as well. This year, sandbagging and shoring up (and building even higher) dikes was started early because the flood forecast was grim, both inside the city (along the river) and in a lot of surrounding towns and farms.
The provincial government guy in charge of infrastructure and such said that this year there will be as much (if not more) water as the 1950 flood, but because of the flood mitigation efforts, the damage in Winnipeg and a lot of towns will be minimal. And any houses built in the country since the 1997 flood (that was called the flood of the century) have to be built on a raised up mound of soil to prevent flooding. A lot of farms have built earthen dikes around their buildings to keep the floodwaters at bay. And for the most part, those efforts have paid off. But it is still pretty awe inspiring to see the video footage of what things look like right now.
It's only going to get worse before it gets better. Luckily, as I am now living on the 4th floor of a building, I will stay high and dry. However, if the water gets to my door, you'll need an Ark to survive!