North Norfolk region hit by ‘flash flood’
A flash of rain and thunderstorms caused even more flooding across Manitoba, forcing at least one rural municipality to declare a local state of emergency.
Roads have been washed out and local infrastructure is struggling to handle the heavy rains that have fallen across the Austin community over the past 24 hours.
The MR of North Norfolk (of which Austin is part) declared a local state of emergency on Tuesday, after Mayor Gerald Barber said the community had been ‘flooded’, with reports of up to 120 millimeters rain. (Social media posts pushed the number even higher, to 150mm in some cases.)
“It’s basically a flash flood… Our lift stations are really struggling to keep up, so there’s a risk of sewer backup,” Barber told the Free press Tuesday. “We’ve got a lot of pumps going and we’re just trying to do what we can.”
Barber said the RM (located between Portage la Prairie and Carberry) is working to pick up rural residents who have only one road to access their property and are now stranded, and is providing sandbags in Austin (population about 420), while warning the farming community of MacGregor to the east of possible rainfall heading its way.
“The road ditches between Austin and MacGregor are full from water escaping from the drainage ditches, and eventually it will come to MacGregor and pass,” the mayor said. “It’s heading east through the municipality… We’ll start making dykes as we see the need.”
A state of emergency was declared in part so residents could ask the province to fund repairs; the RM also plans to make a claim to help repair the damage.
Some of the most devastating damage, Barber said, was to hundreds of acres of farmland, with crops that were lost to the sudden summer storm, after a tough spring that has already delayed planting.
“When you get that much rain, in such a short time, and your systems are already full of water, it’s just a disaster,” he said. “There is nothing that can control it.”
To the southwest, Souris Glenwood Golf Club was sold out with a week of special events, until flooding from nearby Elgin Creek overran much of the greenery, manager Bob Warden said.
“We were here to open as usual at 8 a.m. this morning, and we were shocked to see the river flowing like crazy,” he said on Tuesday.
Two of the bridges that dot the golf course were swept away. Warden hoped staff and volunteers could clean up in time to reopen Wednesday at reduced hours and get back on track in time for Father’s Day, but it’s all up to Mother Nature.
“We’ll get it back in shape once we can get there, but it’s just a question of when we can get there, that’s the question,” he said. “Because we don’t know how much rain is coming.”
Unfortunately for those hardest hit, Tuesday’s rains are unlikely to be the last of the week, said Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Terri Lang.
“It looks like everyone will be getting rain in southern Manitoba,” she said. “Again, these parts of the west are probably feeling the pinch, but it looks like everyone is going to be in on it, at least for the next two days.”
The showers originate from a large low pressure center covering most of the Prairie provinces, which first formed in the United States and hit southern Manitoba on Monday.
After a brief break, another bout of rain is on the way Wednesday night into Thursday. Manitobans should do what they’ve been doing all spring: prepare their homes for the possibility of flooding, Lang said.
Winnipeg’s spring season has been marked by snow and rain, and Environment Canada‘s final rainfall figures show it. The city recorded more than double its average rainfall for the season (March-May), making it the fifth wettest spring on record in 150 years.