Tuesday, February 7

Winnipeg Weather 2

Due to the copious amounts of snow that fell during the winter of 2011, the Spring was upon us here in the water drenched province of Manitoba.  With 56 rivers, over 1,000 lakes we were join to lose.  Lose what?  I did not know as this was my first Spring in Winnipeg, but that amount of snow and the continuous rain?  We were going to lose.

Canadians were smart back in the day, and most of our cities are built on waterways as this was the best way to transport goods, people, and the necessities of life as Canada was being stolen from the First Nations people (might as well be blunt).  This also precipitates flooding in many cities as the water is right there meandering through the centre of the city.  Too much water in any form will eventually turn to the liquid variety, collect at the lowest points in town, and forge onwards.  Flooding is a big problem in several cities, but in a province where water flows in from the West, South and North, it can be even more damaging.

This is why in the Red River Floodway was built around Winnipeg in 1969.  Essentially, it is a big ditch into which water from the Red River can be diverted that would normally flow through the city, but can be taken around the city if the Red River is too high.  It truly is a large ditch.  Ingenious really.  Until the flood waters of 2011 collected and could not find a place to go.    

In May 2011 it all hit with evacuations, planned dike breaches, farm and reserve land flooded, roads cut off, people losing their home, it was chaos for many all along the Hoop and Holler Bend.  I was unfamiliar with all this information until the news, media, World Wide Web and people talked about it for months.  Interestingly enough, because of the floodway, Winnipeg was not flooded.  It could have been disastrous for the city but in diverting all the water to the floodway, most of the city did not even notice there was a flood.

The park path over-run with water

Water very close to the underbelly of this pathway bridge

Will the truck survive the day?

Don't live on the first or second floor

Just outside the city however, the floodway was dangerously high and the government stepped in and planed a dike breach.  This decision flooded farm and reserve land halting the growing season for many farmers, leaving many First Nations people without homes and a community, and cottage dwellers were left with little information about available support to help their properties remain in tact.  7,000 sandbags, $8 million dollars in temporary housing, multiple rivers high enough to evacuate homes.  All outside the city.
Trees in the river
Another road was needed to get to this destination
I was safe.  My apartment was higher up in my building.  My car was parked far from the river.  A series of philosophical questions filled my mind.  What is more important, a city of cement and wood or farmland on which we grow our food?  Whose lives are more important and should be left undisturbed, rural people, First nations people, or urban people?  Who decides what is important, government, city officials, general populace?  How do I take a flood seriously when my home and car are not in immediate danger?  I am new here and don't necessarily feel that this is my community, so how do I contribute feeling like an outsider?  Still thinking about some of these questions.

I did take the chance to go to several locations in the city to explore and came upon some sections of the city effected by flood waters.  In particular the city parks and along the banks of the rivers.

Note the bar-b-q stand just behind the floating ducks

Care for a wee relaxation time in a bench?
People are still homeless.  Some are preparing for an additional flood this Spring.

Important to point out, which influenced the city for good, was the number of people who volunteered their time and energy to fill sandbags, build temporary sandbag dikes, drove out of the city to save other people's homes, opened their own homes to friends and family, volunteered at temporary shelters, all in the name of helping strangers.  These kinds of natural disasters always bring out the community spirit in people we with whom on a daily basis, we have lost.  People in our own physical communities who live right beside us or on the same cul-de-sac are casual observers in our lives, until we need assistance and then we learn who steps up to help, and often there is more than one person.  As the aftermath is cleaned up physically and financially, I wonder how many relationships were improved due to this disaster.  An interesting phenomenon isn't it?  Out of chaos come community.  

No parking in the river!

The beauty of brown rivers

1 comment:

  1. Amazing flooding. I don't think there will be much flooding this spring unless we get a lot more water from the sky pouring down.