Not content with sending only one sign of the end times in the form of a plague, Mother Nature sent Brandon another on Sunday in the form of a record-setting amount of rainfall.
By Monday morning, the rain had stopped after dumping 155 millimeters on the city, but the storm’s effects lingered as roads, highways and buildings remained flooded.
According to Mayor Rick Chrest, whose own basement needed to be bailed out, the storm was the first instance of the city’s emergency warning system being used in a non-test situation since it was installed in 2004.
Chrest said the city called extra public works staff Sunday afternoon in preparation for the storm. He’d also heard lots of stories of neighbours helping each other in the storm’s aftermath.
Spruce Woods MLA Cliff Cullen, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman and Portage la Prairie city manager Nathan Peto reached out to Chrest to offer assistance on Monday, but he said Brandon staff had the situation in hand and external help wasn’t needed.
"They’re trying to get ahead of any future rain," he said. "We’re told it’s forecasted for us to get more rain over the next few days. More rain on top of an already-saturated system doesn’t help, so we’re trying to get in front of that."
Brandon East Progressive Conservative MLA Len Isleifson said that his brother had a wall in his basement burst during the downpour. Isleifson also went out in knee-deep water to see if he could help.
"The water came down so fast it had nowhere to go," he said. "It just created pools and pools and I believe right from 18th Street and Park Avenue down and I’m going to say even down to 10th Street, there was nothing but water. That was just one area. You could see water at intersections that were closed off all over town."
He said he has seen flooding in Brandon before, but not on this scale. At one point while he was out in the water, a car drove by and created a nearly one-metre-high wave that soaked him.
"It was unfortunate that folks were out there just looking around rather than trying to help out," he said.
Multiple videos posted to social media showed stairs descending to the Brandon Regional Health Centre’s sub-basement transformed into a cascading waterfall, damaging the pharmacy, materials management, medical device reprocessing and nutrition services departments.
Water damage to the hospital caused surgeries and endoscopic procedures to be cancelled for the day. The Fairview and Hillcrest personal care homes also operated by Prairie Mountain Health were closed to visitors on Monday as a result of water damage to those facilities as well.
The Trans-Canada Highway was flooded from its junction with Highway 10 to Highway 110, causing a closure for several hours. Just north, the intersection between Highway 10 and Sandison Road was also flooded, forcing visitors to Brandon Municipal Airport to take a detour and approach from the west.
In the south end of Brandon, Patricia Avenue was flooded and closed between First Street and 17th Street East and First Street was closed from Patricia north to Maryland Avenue.
On her way to inspect The Brandon Sun offices, Sun circulation manager Lori Timms said she saw multiple half-submerged cars with their emergency lights on abandoned in the street near Park Avenue and 18th Street. Later she saw black water gushing out of a manhole on Pacific Avenue, overflowing from the rain.
As of noon, Manitoba Public Insurance had received 68 water-related claims, 38 hail-related claims and one tornado-related claim associated with the storm. By the end of the day, a spokesperson said the total number of storm-related claims exceeded 200.
Though damage won’t prevent services from taking place, the parish hall and crypt as well as some office spaces at St. Matthew’s Cathedral sustained heavy water damage. Dean Don Burnhardt told the Sun he went to the cathedral Sunday evening after receiving an automated warning from the basement sump pump.
He saw water pouring out of all the toilets and sewer drains and could do nothing but stand there and watch. On Monday, work was being carried out to pump out the water and prepare for the arrival of insurance adjusters to take stock of the situation. Burnhardt said repairs will likely take weeks.
"Our boiler room got the worst of it, it got about six to eight inches of water," Burnhardt said. "Basically it’s so bad that we’re not even going to try to tackle it ourselves. We have one caretaker and this is simply beyond what he could do."
Both Brandon University and Assiniboine Community College had some water damage, but not to a large extent.
BU spokesperson Rob Henderson said some basements on campus got water in them and a few roofs leaked. University staff were working on cleanup and assessing the damage on Monday.
The worst-hit building for ACC was the Adult Collegiate on Rosser Avenue, which is privately owned and leased by the college, said spokesperson Danielle Adriaansen.
At the North Hill campus, some water had pooled in its parking lot, some tree branches had come down and a bit of water had seeped into some building. The Victoria Avenue East campus had some minor water leakage as well.
Brandon School Division secretary-treasurer Denis Labossiere said 12 division properties had been affected by water. The storms did not affect the construction site of the in-progress Maryland Park School.
On Monday afternoon, the provincial government released an extended heat warning, flood warning and high-water advisory in a sign that this summer will likely continue to be hot and wet.
» Twitter: @ColinSlark
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Updated on Tuesday, June 30, 2020 at 11:03 AM CDT: An earlier version of this article listed an incorrect owner for the Renaissance Station Business Centre.