Manitoba's Infrastructure Minister is making no promises that provincial funding will be made available to municipalities impacted by spring flooding.
The flood outlook has taken a roller coaster ride this week. As of Monday, flood forecasters were still calling for flooding along the Red River to be at or near 2009 levels. On Tuesday, those levels were downgraded significantly. But, that lasted only until Wednesday when the threat of a blizzard in North Dakota prompted flood officials to raise expected crest levels. Still, the Red is expected to remain well below peaks reached in 2011.
"I absolutely thank God for the wonderful weather we've been having," says Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler. "This has been the perfect weather throughout the Red River Valley."
Even though southern Manitoba did not see the kind of snowfall this winter as was felt south of the border, that did not stop municipalities from preparing for spring flooding. For example, roads near Rosenort and St. Adolphe were built up, while a super sandbag wall was put in place at Ste. Agathe.
"We always want to be prepared," he says. "We plan for the worst and we hope for the best."
Schuler says the province covers costs associated with community ring dikes and work done on provincial roads, while municipalities are left to handle costs connected to municipal roads and sandbags. When asked whether a disaster financial assistance program might be set up to help municipalities recoup some of their costs, Schuler was non-committal.
"We're hoping that there won't be heavy expenses," says Schuler. "We're hoping that the flood crest will come through, it will pass through without any major difficulty and then we won't have those expenses."
And, as to whether or not he feels bad that municipalities were making flood preparations based on the province's warning for a 2009 size flood, Schuler suggests Manitoba wasn't the only jurisdiction calling for a flood that size.
"Keep in mind that Fargo was calling, and this is through their federal forecast system, they were calling for a forty-one-foot crest," he says. "It crested at just about thirty-five feet, that's a six-foot difference."
Schuler adds, "we're all happy that we have to pay a little bit of money to be prepared, but we didn't have to pay an awful lot of money for a lot of damage."