Mayor of Ritchot wants province to do more to lift up roads, berms and ring dikes
Just two months ago, Chao Shen bought his dream house in the St. Adolphe, Man., area and set to work making it a home where he and his wife could raise a family.
Now, it's more of a nightmare, with his new home's basement underwater.
"I'm feeling sad, very sad, because I just bought this March 8 and I spent $40,000 on renovations, and now it's all flooded," he said.
On Friday, Shen returned to his house in the community just south of Winnipeg, after being evacuated from the area due to overland flooding.
He came home to find his entire basement full of water, nearly up to the main floor.
Since the 1997 "Flood of the Century," all communities in the Red River Valley have been protected by ring dikes.
Shen's house sits just outside St. Adolphe's dike.
He said he had heard about Manitoba's great flood of 1997, but thought his home would be safe from flooding. Now he's worried he'll have to move his house to higher ground.
He's not yet sure if insurance will cover the damage.
Shen spent much of the last two days attempting to pump water out, but can't keep up with it.
"I just wish the raining can stop," he said.
Chris Ewen, the mayor of the municipality of Ritchot, which includes St. Adolphe, says it's a challenging time for people in the Red River Valley.
While it dodged the worst of the latest weather system to pass through the province, the region saw some light rain on Friday and Saturday.
Gusting winds have also continued in southern Manitoba, which Environment Canada warned on Friday could drive up water levels in flood-stricken areas.
"We're seeing a ton of road closures right now, especially with the heavy winds that we had last night as well. A lot of debris over the roads, just dangerous driving all around, even in our major thoroughfares, our major highways between communities," Ewen said in an interview with CBC News Network on Saturday.
So far, 230 households in the RM of Ritchot have been served with evacuation notices, and about half of the 850 residents impacted have left their homes.
"It's very devastating. And it's not just devastating physically, it's an emotional draining and mentally draining situation," Ewen said.
"The people working behind the scenes, they're working night and day around the clock to ensure the sandbags are going out, to ensure homes are protected. So, you know, I can't imagine what most of them are going through."
The RM of Ritchot is one of 30 municipalities, not including First Nations, that have declared local states of emergency, a provincial spokesperson said on Saturday. That's up by four since May 9.
To date, community members in Ritchot have filled 150,000 sandbags and worked around the clock to stem the flow of water.
Ewen acknowledged the help from the provincial government, but says much more needs to be done to protect communities like his.
"We need more road infrastructure improvements. We need to raise those roads. We need to increase the height of the berms and ring dikes around our communities — not just Ritchot, this is everywhere in Manitoba," Ewen said.
"The province needs to do more going forward."
A spokesperson from the provincial government says it has previously announced "a substantial highway improvement program," and flood impacts will be factored in moving forward with repair projects.
The 30 municipalities under a state of emergency as of Saturday, according to the province, are:
- Town of Arborg.
- RM of Armstrong.
- Municipality of Bifrost–Riverton.
- RM of Cartier.
- Municipality of Clanwilliam–Erickson.
- RM of Coldwell.
- RM of Dufferin.
- Municipality of Emerson-Franklin.
- RM of Ethelbert.
- RM of Fisher.
- RM of Grahamdale.
- RM of Grey.
- RM of Gimli.
- RM of Headingley.
- RM of McCreary.
- RM of Macdonald.
- RM of Montcalm.
- City of Morden.
- RM of Morris.
- Municipality of Norfolk Treherne.
- Municipality of Reynolds.
- RM of Rhineland.
- RM of Ritchot.
- Municipality of Pembina.
- RM of St. Laurent.
- RM of Thompson.
- RM of West Interlake.
- RM of Whitemouth.
- Town of Winnipeg Beach.
- RM of Woodlands.
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