COLIN CORNEAU/THE BRANDON SUN
Ron Woodvine, left, a hydrologist and task force member, chats with members of the public during an open house hosted by the Manitoba Flood Review Task Force at the Keystone Centre Tuesday.
Public feedback on last year’s flood is underway as task force members kicked off a series of open houses in Brandon on Tuesday.
Members of the 2011 Manitoba Flood Review Task Force were on hand at the Keystone Centre to answer questions and collect feedback from members of the public, who could drop in throughout the four-hour session.
For task force chair David Farlinger, the process resembles the 1997 Red River flood review, which he also chaired.
"We made a number of recommendations in ’97, almost all of which were accepted and we intend to do a similar thing this time," Farlinger said.
The group, formed in February this year, completed the initial planning and data collection in May, leading to the current phase of public consultation, which will run until the end of October.
"It’s important for the public to come and see all the work that has been done as far as research," said Louis Allain, task force member." The public is part of this process … so that we can work in an integrated fashion to better prepare our future."
Allain was impacted by the flood directly, when he had to leave his St. Laurent home of 23 years on May 18, 2011.
"We saw a wave a metre high, it was like a tsunami — and it just came and broke down all the sandbagging," Allain said. "It was a flash flood — in about an hour the damage was done."
First responders worked quickly to move Allain and other residents of the Twin Beach area to safety, but the flood effects are still felt today.
"We’re still displaced," said Allain, who now lives in Winnipeg as his St.Laurent home is condemned. "There is still water in the house."
Stories from the flood are an important element in the group’s final report which will be released in December. It will include a summary of the feedback given during the consultation process, and focus on nine terms of reference. Input is also being gathered from hydrologists, engineers, emergency measures personnel and other technicians and researchers.
For open house visitor Barb Breemersch from the Assiniboine Flood Recovery Team, there is still a lot of work to be done.
"A lot of people who didn’t come and speak out at the time are saying now, because it’s much later, are saying ‘Oh you’re a year too late,’" Breemersch said. "There’s still people out there that are in desperate need."
Breemersch works out of Brandon to provide assistance in the southwestern area, where she said it’s "pretty obvious what happened a year ago."
"We’re hearing a lot about the Lake Manitoba area, but there’s a lot here in the Westman area — the damage is still evident," Breemersch said.
While Deloraine resident Neil Hathaway wasn’t personally affected by the flood, he came to the open house out of concern.
"I’m concerned about the future, what’s going to happen down the road — is this going to happen again? What are the causes?" Hathaway said.
Despite his concerns, Hathaway was pleased to see one positive come out of the flood.
"It certainly pulled the community together, people of all ages were out volunteering," he said.
The task force wants to hear about all the aspect of the flood and urge those who can’t make it to an open house to participate online by visiting 2011manitobafloodreviewtask force.ca. The site allows the public to track the progress of the force and submit input.
Ten open houses are slated near the main areas of concern. Next is a session at the Souris Glenwood Memorial Complex from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, and at Guy Hall in The Pas on June 26.
Visit 2011manitobafloodreviewtaskforce.ca for:
• Surveys: Complete an online survey to share feedback on specific topics related to our work. New surveys will be added regularly.
• Online Feedback Forms: Provide input and make recommendations on a range of flood-related topics or send the task force a general message.
• Email updates: Sign up on the website to receive email updates and stay up-to-date on task force work.
• Public open houses: Find dates for upcoming open houses in a community near you (note: all open houses will share same information).
• Online open house: View open house materials and then share feedback online.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 20, 2012