September 24, 2017

Manitoba flood cost may top $200 million

Aerial view of the release cut in the Assiniboine River dike.

The record Manitoba floods may end up costing the province around $200 million, says Premier Greg Selinger.

“That’s just a guesstimate right now, but we’ve got a lot of work to do to prevent as much damage as possible,” Selinger on Sunday on Canadian Television.

The Canadian province has already spent about $70 million on measures to reduce flood damage to homes and communities, Selinger said.

However, Selinger said the province does not yet know how much it will cost to compensate land owners affected by the deliberate breach of dikes holding back the swollen Assiniboine River, a measure designed to reduce damage by flooding. Around 180 square kilometres of land is expected to be affected by the relief cut.

Early Saturday morning heavy machinery began scraping away a layer of rock on a closed section of Provincial Road 331 — Hoop and Holler Bend — to allow water to flow out of a slow-moving Assiniboine oxbow and into the La Salle River watershed.

The water began flowing at the site southeast of Portage la Prairie at 8 a.m. and started heading south as well as southeast toward a bend in the Elm River, which drains into the La Salle River downstream.

Water Stewardship’s Steve Topping said the Canadian armed forces were working to shore up Assiniboine River dikes in 17 places that have become weak.

Near the site of the breach, water is moving slowly east over fields southeast of Portage la Prairie toward the Elm River.

The aim is to move the water to the east and south so that it can be both stored on fields and directed into the Elm River, which eventually empties into the Red River.

Selinger said Manitoba homes and properties affected by the deliberate breach will be able to apply for a special compensation fund that will go “beyond the normal disaster financial assistance programs.”

“They’ve had to make some sacrifice for this and we’re going to be there to support them every step of the way,” he said.

The federal government has agreed to cover half of the costs the province incurred preparing for this year’s flood, Selinger said. The premier said he was confident the two governments would be able to work out a cost-sharing agreement to help those affected by the dike breach.

“I believe the federal government has an open mind,” Selinger said. That maybe true but do they have an open check book?

Newswarped wouldlike to highlight the plight of the residents of the affected areas in Manitoba. While the Mississippi in the Southern United States is pulling in the headlines, Manitoba has been alrgely ignored by the worlds media. Yet the devastation and damage to farms and peoples livelihoods is no less significant.