Flood-threatened Birtle planned for the worst case scenario but got the best and evacuated residents are now back home.
Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation and the province’s Emergency Measures Organization descended on Birtle on Saturday ahead of an expected catastrophic deluge on Birdtail Creek which runs through the town of 700.
A massive wall of water had built up behind an embankment at Waywayseecappo First Nation threatening many homes in the area. But after the province cut a portion of the former rail line and ice blocking the culverts released earlier this week, the trapped water was released slowly and the flood crisis was averted.
The RM of Birtle and the RM of Rossburn lifted their evacuation orders and a state of emergency in those areas also ended yesterday morning, concluding a tense five days for low-lying homes.
Some 14 homes in the town of Birtle and two in the RM were evacuated, but all were able to return home yesterday and work started to rid the town of a massive dike created along the creek.
“There was no damage,” said Ron Bell, the emergency measures public information manager for both the town and the RM of Birtle.
“We were very anxious in the early days, we were preparing for the worst case and we got the best.
“It turned out to be nothing more than a normal spring flood.”
The 64 people evacuated from Wayway — which included 12 homes and a 10-suite seniors’ complex — returned home yesterday morning as well.
Wayway Chief Melville Wabash said the area is “getting back to normal,” and cleanup in the area to get rid of sandbags provided by the province is underway.
The water reached Birtle on Wednesday, causing a 10-inch rise in water levels at the town’s bridge and reports indicate there is approximately 1.5 feet of clearance under the bridge as of yesterday, according to a government-issued flood bulletin.
However, a flood warnings remained in place as of yesterday for all areas along Birdtail Creek downstream from Highway 45, as flows remain high after the surge of water Wednesday.
The province said it is still working with municipalities to ensure monitoring continues on any municipal roads and provincial highways affected by flows in the area.
Meanwhile, a flood warning is still in place on the Assiniboine River from Shellmouth Dam to Brandon due to high flows.
» Twitter: @grjbruce
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 2, 2014