In this May 10, 2011, file photo, a wall of super sandbags protects Montana’s Cookhouse in the Corral Centre from possible flooding. Montana’s was closed for 2 1/2 weeks during the flood. (FILE PHOTO)
To mark the anniversary of the historic 2011 flood, the Brandon Chamber of Commerce has released the second part of its Rising Above campaign.
The full-colour booklet documents the timeline of last year’s flood and includes photos of everything from dike construction to Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit.
Local businesses affected by the flood are the main focus of the campaign.
"We know that the flood affected the community as a whole, but this is … based on those businesses that were evacuated," said Carolynn Cancade, Brandon Chamber of Commerce general manager.
"It’s so people know which businesses were affected … many of those businesses are still struggling, and part of this is … to remind them that some of these people are still going to face the challenges from last year."
The first part of the campaign was the full-page newspaper ads featuring local businesses. Since the beginning of April, the Brandon Sun has featured the ad three days per week.
"We know that was a pretty tough time for a lot of businesses in that area, and anything we could do to help them rebound and recover fully, we’re certainly willing to help out in any fashion we can," said Glen Parker, Brandon Sun sales and marketing director.
The Rising Above booklet, printed by Leech Printing, will be distributed in the Brandon Sun in Saturday’s newspaper. It was also distributed in the Community News Edition this week.
The campaign is funded by the Manitoba government through the Excess Moisture Economic Stimulus Program. A total of $2.5 million in funding went to 42 projects across the province.
Exactly one year ago Monday, the Riverbank Discovery Centre was the first building to be evacuated.
"It is interesting to think about how much has happened in a year," said Lois MacDonald, manager of Brandon Riverbank Inc. "And really for us, now I think the gravity of all the work that has to be done is sort of what’s on our mind on the one-year anniversary."
Until the permanent dike is completed, MacDonald said a lot of their work is on hold.
"The dike construction plan is really kind of the thing that will determine how we can redevelop and remediate a lot of the river bank," she said. "The other piece that we’re working on right now is doing the remediation to the ponds … and trying to get the pedestrian bridge area back up to its lovely standard."
MacDonald said she was "absolutely stunned" by how well the city managed the flood.
"They did an incredible job," MacDonald said. "The city working together with the province, it was a complete team effort, and I think it speaks volumes to our community and how well we can over come these kinds of struggles."
The Trails West Inn was evacuated for three weeks, but owner Heidi Howarth said it felt more like a six- to eight-week closure.
"Business wasn’t normal. Everybody was focused on other things, getting things back to normal," she said. "Events were cancelled. A lot of sporting events that we would get a lot of clientele with at the hotel weren’t coming."
Ben Hernandez, general manager of Montana’s Cookhouse, vividly remembers the events of one year ago.
"As a management group, we were meeting on a daily basis," he said. "It was a very hard experience to go through … As a team we were very concerned about our staff. We had over 90 employees at the time."
Montana’s was closed for two and a half weeks.
Hernandez looks back on the events of last year with a lot of gratitude.
"We all came out of this pretty good. We came out alive, we didn’t have loss of property … The one thing that I learned is that having the government that we have in place right now and the things they did for us … has to be taken into consideration," he said. "Because without all their efforts we wouldn’t be here talking about it in the manner that we’re talking about it today … I look at what could have been … Everything that they did to keep us safe is not going to be forgotten."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 11, 2012