The Southern Emergency Response Committee (SERC) has watched over Morden, Winkler and the RM of Stanley for the past 15 years, establishing an agile response system.
Since pandemic restrictions were lifted, members of SERC have resumed in-person meetings and training sessions.
"We sent about six or seven members of our group to the Disaster Management Conference in Winnipeg," explains Darin Driedger, Emergency Coordinator for SERC. "That was in January and that's something we haven't done in several years. You know, kind of getting back to what things were, I guess a few years ago, trying to sharpen some of our skills in certain areas that we hadn't worked on in the last couple of years."
Maintaining and improving the required skill set is an ongoing process for members of this emergency response team. Driedger says the disaster management world is constantly changing and evolving.
"About a month ago, we took in a presentation with the provincial government where they had officials outlining their new expectations and requirements that they have of communities for their Emergency Management programs. We had been exposed to some of this information. But it's good to get more in-depth information provided on some of these new requirements, which I think our communities are pretty well prepared to meet. We're always learning best practices, what's worked for other communities and what hasn't. [There] is always tweaking and adjusting going on."
In it's first Flood Outlook of the year, the province's Hydrologic Forecast Centre says there's moderate risk of significant runoff in some southern Manitoba basins
Driedger remembers the challenges last spring brought to the cities of Morden and Winkler and the RM of Stanley.
"All potentially faced some serious situations last spring due to flooding. We learned a lot. There was some destruction of property, but everyone was able to stay safe. One of the main things we learned - and not really a surprise - but this community has [the] willingness to come help and help people out in these challenging times. One of the things we learned is how to harness that power of people wanting to help and volunteer. So we made some processes where we could coordinate that response."
Having that experience will be useful for the committee and the community going forward added Driedger.
This spring certainly looks promising.
"We’ll say optimistic but we will stay cautious at the same time. We know how quickly that can change. I know Manitobans understand that we're not out of the woods yet, right? I think last spring we had [a snow storm] in April. So we'll definitely be cautious, but I do think so far it looks encouraging, the forecast, and hopefully we can avoid a repeat of what we had last year."
Even for hardy Manitobans, Driedger says the recent snow storms are a reminder of how unpredictable the weather can be - and no less so from May to August, the season for severe summer weather.
"The main message for severe summer weather is, our forecasting is very good. It's not perfect but it's getting better every year. We need people to listen to these forecasts and act accordingly. If you're given warnings, they always come with instructions on what you should do. I just ask that people do follow that. It prevents our first responders from having to go put themselves at risk to help people who may not have listen to those warnings."