Manitoba providing more than $30M to help with areas hit by floods
Flooding in Neepawa is pictured on July 2, 2020. (CTV News Photo Ken Gabel)
WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government announced it will be providing tens of millions in disaster financial assistance (DFA) to help with costs related to three flooding events earlier in the year.
Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler made the announcement at a news conference on Friday, Sept. 11, noting the funding will focus on three events that happened in the spring and summer of 2020.
The province will be providing a $3.7 million DFA program for a high-water event that took place in the spring when both the Red River Floodway and Portage Diversion were activated.
Manitoba’s operations focused on the Red River Valley ring dike communities, which included pumping, completing partial ring dike closures, and the ramping of roads for community access.
The minister said this DFA will comply with federal matching funds.
“As all of us know, we decided to live at the bottom of what used to be a lake and enormous watershed, about the size of a European country, that drains through all kinds of tributaries,” Schuler said.
Paul Gilmore, Reeve of the R.M. of Montcalm, said the rural municipality is happy with the funding announcement.
“Our costs in the spring flooding were anywhere between $1.5 to $2 million and not getting provincial funding for those amounts would seriously affect our budgeting and finances,” he said.
The second event took place from June 6 to 10, when southeast Manitoba was hit by heavy rains, with some areas receiving 200 millimetres in the span of three days.
Due to this storm, overland flooding was reported in the rural municipalities of De Salaberry, Piney, Reynolds, La Broquerie, and Stuartburn, as well as the municipality of Emerson-Franklin.
Schuler said the damage is $2.059 million for the event, and there will be no federal matching funds.
“There was no way any system could have handled the kind of moisture that came down,” the minister said.
“In fact we toured down a road, passed the Rat River, which was about 500 metres wide, it just turned into overland flooding and flooded everything and anything in its way.”
The third flooding event took place between June 28 and July 5 in western and southern Manitoba around the Brandon, Rivers, and Neepawa areas.
During this storm, the rain-swollen Little Saskatchewan River made its way to the Assiniboine River, which impacted Minnedosa, Rapid City, and Rivers.
The province noted this was a one-in-1,000-year event that caused it to lose confidence in the dam near Rivers.
Due to this storm, some properties had to be evacuated and the Portage Diversion was activated.
There was also heavy rain in the upstream watershed of the Whitemud River, which caused water levels to rise and exceed 2011 levels.
In total, 10 municipalities declared a state of local emergency, and 20 municipalities were impacted by the storm.
The minister said the province is declaring a DFA of $29.44 million for this flooding event.
“It was rain of epic proportions,” Schuler said, adding there was no way anything could have handled this amount of rain.
“Damage was unbelievable.”
Blake McCutcheon, Mayor of Neepawa, said the town was always optimistic that that the government would move forward at some point with the DFA.
“It’s very exciting to actually have it announced and to make it a permanent decision that they’re going to move forward,” he said
He said there are quite a few things in Neepawa, such as Park Lake and a bridge replacement, which need some repairs following the storm.
Brian Kayes, emergency coordinator for the city of Brandon, said the DFA will help the city manage some of the costs that came out of this unplanned event.
He noted the city has a deductible it needs to pay, which amounts to $3.25 a person or about $158,000.
“That comes off the top of whatever it is our costs are,” he said.
McCutcheon noted these are difficult times and he understands the government has a lot of priorities at the moment with the pandemic.
“We appreciate the fact that they have decided to move forward with the financial assistance and we’re hopeful that it will help out a lot of our communities,” he said.
The province noted the DFA application deadline is Dec. 10.