Sunday, April 19, 2009

Red River Valley of the North Flood, 2009: April 19

It's been about 11 days since I posted about the big flood in the Red River Valley of the North, and surrounding areas. This post won't completely cover last week and a half, but I've been a little distracted lately, so this will have to do.
"Missing man feared dead in Red River flood" (April 19, 2009)

"Friends and neighbours of Walter Imbeck fear that the flooded Red River a short drive north of Winnipeg has claimed the widower, 68, as its first victim.

"No one has seen Imbeck since the evening of April 11 when he talked about trying to repair a damaged drain behind his riverbank home...."

There's a great deal more detail in the article. Mr. Imbeck's 68, and was normally a very neat person. Which made the vehicle he left in front of an open garage door stand out. At this point, law enforcement is treating him as a missing person.

The number of people killed in this flood will probably vary quite a bit, depending on who's doing the telling. This article puts the number at two, possibly three. The other two were an elderly couple.

That doesn't include the two deaths reported March 28, 2009, by KARE.

Since the flood involves parts of two states and a province, I suspect it'll take a while for people to compare notes on what all happened.

And, my sympathy and prayers for the people involved.
"Flood threat eases south of Winnipeg; residents hope for no rain"
The Canada Press (April 19, 2009)

"The flood situation south of Winnipeg stabilized on Sunday, but officials say they're still watching the skies and crossing their fingers.

" 'We're starting to crest all along the Red River Valley, which is good news,' said Steve Ashton, Manitoba's cabinet minister in charge of emergency measures.

" '(But) we are watching the rain. Certainly the forecast over the next period of days is something to watch very closely.'

"Forecasters expect little to no rain over southern Manitoba for the next few days, but say significant precipitation could hit the area by Thursday...."

Those Thursday rains, if they come, could at the least prolong the flooding. This has not been a particularly good year for the Red River Valley of the North so far - hardly a profound or penetrating observation.
"Red drops in city"
Winnipeg Sun (April 19, 2009)

"Red River's level is dropping in Winnipeg, but don't tell the Holiday Mountain ski resort that the flood threat is on a downward slope.

"The recreation complex, about 140 km southwest of Winnipeg, is on high alert while continuing to ward off a surge in the swollen Pembina River.

" 'It's not just the resort -- there are 23 homes on the site,' Bernice Later, co-owner of Holiday Mountain Resort, said yesterday. 'We're lucky. We haven't lost everything. That's all that matters.'..."

The Pembina broke the 1997 flood record.
"Manitoba minister warns against early return to homes" (April 18, 2009)

"Manitoba's emergency measures minister warned residents against returning to their homes too quickly despite the fact that the Red River appears to have crested in Winnipeg.

"Minister Steve Ashton said Saturday that although the river is receding in the city, water levels could still rise due to significant water flow from tributary waterways...."

Seems to be good advice. As I wrote earlier, floods are notoriously untrustworthy, and have little to no regard for timetables or forecasts.
" 'Worst not over,' Manitoba tells those in flood zone"
CBC (April 18, 2009)

"The Red River has become a 750-square-kilometre lake forcing almost 2,000 people from their homes and the flood threat is far from over, Manitoba government officials said Saturday.

" 'This is not the beginning. It's certainly not the end. We're right in the middle of it,' said Steve Ashton, Manitoba's minister responsible for emergency measures.

"Water levels across southern Manitoba are declining extremely slowly, officials said, and there could be several crests on the Red River, currently swollen to 19 kilometres wide in some places.

"Nearly 2,000 southern Manitobans have been forced from their homes because of flooding...."

That's three railroad cars in the thumbnail - follow the link for CBC's full-size photo, in the article.

That 19 kilometers is almost twelve miles, for those who aren't all that familiar with metric measure. That's a whole lot of water.
"Manitoba seeing some of the highest water levels since American Civil War began"
The Canada Press (April 17, 2009)

"Water levels in sopping-wet Manitoba are now the second highest in the last century and a half, behind only the devastating flood of 1997, officials confirmed Friday.

"The levels have eclipsed marks set in 1979 and 1950 when there was massive flooding and evacuations. In fact, outside of 1997, you have to go all the way back to 1861 - when Canada wasn't even a country and the American Civil War had just broken out - to find water as high as it is now.

" 'Manitoba has a culture of flooding,' said senior provincial flood forecaster Alf Warkentin. 'We have a very rich history of flooding dating all the way back to 1776 when there was a very big flood ... This year is certainly in what you might call bad company with other floods....'..."

There's quite a bit of detail in the article, about how people and communities were coping with the flood. What struck me, though, was the historical perspective given. There's a tendency to forget, I think, that change happens - has happened - and probably will continue to happen.
"Winnipeg begins arresting residents for disobeying evacuation orders"
The Vancouver Sun (April 17, 2009)

"Rising flood waters forced Manitoba's capital into a state of emergency on Thursday, as police outside the city were forced to charge some frustrated residents with violating a mandatory evacuation order.

"By midday, the City of Winnipeg had declared a state of emergency for low-lying areas of the city, as rising flood waters crept closer to the tops of dikes protecting the Manitoba capital.

"Hours later, officials said it appeared the Red River had crested at 6.87 metres above winter ice levels — just 60 centimetres below the level of 1997's Flood of the Century...."

Sounds like that evacuation order was serious. And, a good idea. Water gets pretty cold, even this time of year, up here: and it's very inconsiderate to leave your body stuck in a tree.

Up in Winnipeg, this wasn't a record-breaker - and I'm sure they don't mind a bit.
"Limited flood emergency imposed"
Winnipeg Sun (April 17, 2009)

" Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz declared a state of emergency yesterday for certain areas of the city as a precautionary measure, even as the Red River crested and levels started to drop.

"The state of emergency applies to all properties on the river side of the city's primary dike.

"Katz said the declaration gives the city authority to, among other things, force people to evacuate their homes...."

The article has quite a bit of detail: including a reminder to stay clear of the dikes, unless you're building, maintaining, inspecting, or repairing them. Kids, naturally enough, had been getting closer to the flooding river than was deemed safe by adults.
"UPDATE 2-Canada's Red River crests early in Winnipeg"
Reuters (April 16, 2009)

"The Red River has hit its highest level in the Canadian Prairie city of Winnipeg two days earlier than expected and should now begin to decline, government officials said on Thursday.

"The Red rose one foot (0.3 metres) overnight to its crest of 22.5 feet (6.9 metres) because of heavy ice moving in from the Assiniboine River, which meets the Red in the city's downtown. The Assiniboine has now also crested.

"The Assiniboine's ice floes moved earlier than expected, heading off a slightly higher crest that had been forecast for Saturday. The Red River is expected to crest during the weekend in the valley south and upstream of Winnipeg, where the river is in places as wide as 10 miles (16 km), dotted by towns kept dry with ring dikes...."

One thing seems constant with things like floods: they're notoriously disrespectful toward schedules and timetables.
"Clay, sandbags added to dam protecting ND town"
The Associated Press (April 16, 2009)

"KATHRYN, N.D. (AP) — A convoy of trucks, excavators, bulldozers and backhoes moved in to fortify a seeping dam Thursday in eastern North Dakota as engineers and National Guard troops worked to save a tiny town that would flood if the dam fails.

"Water was flowing like a miniature waterfall around a corner of the earthen Clausen Springs Dam, which protects the town of Kathryn, downhill and about six miles east. The water was eating through walls of the grass-lined spillway built to handle the extra water volume along a tributary of the flooding Sheyenne River...."

Kathryn, North Dakota, is roughly halfway from Fargo to Jamestown, North Dakota. It's not in the Red River Valley of the North: and serves as a reminder that there's flooding in quite a few places in this general area.
Flood-related posts: List of posts about this flood:

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