Flood Diary

Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

By Amanda E. (Grade 12)

Before I start talking about the flood situation, I want to give some background information.

April 4, 1997

It all started on Friday April 4, 1997 with sleet and wind. On Saturday, the storm really started. The snow came, and the wind created major drifts on people's yards and on the roads. On Sunday, things started to die down. It wasn't snowing anymore, but there was a really fast, cold blowing wind. The only good thing that this blizzard had to offer was two days of school closures!

People said we were going to have a flood this spring, but everyone was hoping for the best. We didn't have that much snow, so we thought maybe a few houses would get water in their basements, and that would be it. But once the blizzard was over, and I saw all the snow, I knew flood waters were on their way.

April 22, 1997

I was watching the news last night, and I was completely shocked to see all the water that Grand Forks has! It's gotta be at least six feet high. Can you imagine all the damage that has, and is, being done? That is so terrible. Emerson is being evacuated now too. People being forced to leave their homes and belongings because of flooding. The mess is going to be unreal once everything is over. I think that here in Winkler, we are very fortunate, because we will not experience any flooding.

April 27, 1997

Everyone who lives in the ring-diked towns and farms in the Red River Valley had to be out of their homes for sure today. Everyone is worried because even though the dikes may be high enough to stop the water, there is a pretty fast wind coming. The water will easily go over the dikes once the wind gets at it.

The river crested in Emerson today. The water is 792.43 feet above sea level now. What I cannot believe is that of the 3,500 farmsteads in the valley, 25% of them have failed. That is, 875 farms that will probably not be able to grow any crops until the summer. They should be planting already.

I would really hate to be a flood victim. I count my lucky stars every day that I live in a nice dry community.

April 28, 1997

I would hate to have to move to a town where I didn't know anyone, just because my house was full of water! I never knew this much water existed. People have been sandbagging like crazy to try and save their communities. Some of these dykes have failed. Now, a lot of the communities are surrounded by water. I never knew southern Manitoba had so many islands!

People are working around the clock to build a dyke around Brunkild that is supposed to save the city of Winnipeg, while the people in surrounding areas get really wet.

From the week of April 21-25, our school sent out bus loads of students to help sandbag wherever help was needed. I think we sent out three busses a day! A couple of the youth groups went, as well as various businesses. I think it is so nice that people are more than willing to help out. I would have, but one of school courses requires me to work in an elementary school, so I had to be there instead of where I really wanted to be.

April 30, 1997

St. Agathe residents woke up to two metres of water this morning. They had put sandbags on the east side of the river, but the water came in from the west. What a surprise first thing in the morning. I think I would have gone crazy. I value so much of my stuff, and if it ever got ruined, I know I would never be able to replace it. But a lot of people will have to try and replace their stuff, because most of it will be ruined.

May 1, 1997

Well, more people are being evacuated. Yesterday, some people from the St. Vital area of Winnipeg had to evacuate because part of the dike leaked. They weren't given much time either. Can you even imagine how shocked these people must have been to wake up to water in their houses. And they probably didn't even have enough time to get everything to higher ground. All their heirlooms and prized possessions will be ruined! (So will all the other flood victims').

You know what I think is dumb? People who stop in the middle of the road to watch other people sandbag. Instead of watching, why don't they help? So many people have stopped to watch that they have created traffic jams!

This reminds me of a story. My mom said that a bus load of students from Altona had gone to a farmer's house to sandbag. The farmer came out of the house in a three piece suit and started giving orders. The students went home right then and there. If you are not willing to save your own home, don't expect others to either.

The river is expected to crest today, so then it is just a matter of time before all the water is gone. (It'll probably take a month or so)

And what a bad time to call an election. You'd think that Mr. Chretien had more sense than that. We don't have time to worry about who is going to run our government, because we are too busy worrying about saving our houses.

May 2, 1997

Elementary schools, fire halls, community arenas, and department stores from some of the provinces are all donating items for the flood victims. The Toronto Blue Jays are collecting money, as is the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra. Pledges have been made to the Red Cross, and so far they have received $465,000! People are being really generous and helping out. It's nice to know that people are helping those in need.

May 5, 1997

The Winkler Bible Institute is using their facilities to teach the children victims of the flood. So far, there are 41 students enrolled. Schools have donated materials for these children which is very generous of them. But even though they are forced out of their houses, they still need to go to school. There are two students at the high school and three to five at various elementary schools that are flood victims.

This will be an experience no one will ever forget, especially those who have been forced to leave their homes, and go to a strange place. Manitoba certainly has been the province to make history this year!

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