Flood watch of 1997

Garden Valley Collegiate
Winkler, Manitoba

By Joel H. (Grade 12)

April 21, 1997

There are already some roads closed, and Emerson is to be evacuated in the next day or two. There is one house in Grand Forks that is two stories high and all that is showing is part of the roof. A total of 3 blocks burned down in Grand Forks because there was too much water for the firetrucks to get to the fires and put them out.

I've heard some people say that Winnipeg will not get hit nearly as hard because they have the floodway to protect them. The thing is, there will be so much water coming in one shot that the floodway could give way to the pressure, or run over the sides. I think that it will hit Winnipeg worse than they think it will. They just have to look at what is happening to all the other towns along the Red River. Sure, they are a bigger town and have more time to prepare than all the other places, but I don't think that they really know what they are in for. There has been alot of sandbagging, so this will help to minimize the amount of flooding.

April 24, 1997

Yesterday, I went sandbagging with our youth group. The hardest part about sandbagging is when you are the first person in the line who has to pick up the bags from the ground. It feels like my lower back is contracted and takes away my breath at times but this is only the muscles and nothing serious. From being in the line, and passing the sandbags down the line, my arms, pecks, and abs are sore. This is from always turning side to side when passing the sand bags on. It is tiring work, but I do not mind doing it when it helps people.

April 29, 1997

Yesterday, I heard that the Red River is at least 20 miles wide at some points. The dykes are holding at most places but with the high winds we have been having, the pounding against the dykes increases the likelihood that they will break. The river has supposedly crested in Emerson over night, but there is still danger because of the wind. At about 3 a.m. this morning the dyke broke in St. Agathe. The town is now under about 2 metres of water everywhere. The good thing is that everyone but the emergency personnel had been evacuated earlier. The dyke did not break at the side of the town facing the river, but it was overland flooding from behind the town that broke the dyke. The crest at Emerson was at about 40 feet, which is well above normal river levels.

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