Neepawa deals with historic flooding


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Aerial photo by Jon Luigi Pido. View of the southeast corner of Neepawa, south of Hwy 16, west of Hwy 5 South.

By Eoin Devereux

Neepawa Banner & Press

Neepawa mayor Blake McCutcheon has noted that the past few days have been like nothing the community has ever experienced before. On July 1, the Town declared a local state of emergency following a pair of massive storms, which caused severe flooding throughout the region. Those two significant weather events combined, dropped an estimated 101 to 152 millimetres in rainfall. McCutcheon told the Banner & Press that those types of numbers in such a short period of time have not been seen here 

“I can say that I have lived in this community for over 40 years and i have never seen anything like this. Many other people I have spoken with, have said the same. This is like nothing we’ve experience before,” said McCutcheon. “We thought we were in pretty good shape as of [July 1] at 7:00 a.m. Everyone had been up all night on June 30, but then at around 7:00 a.m., we received that call that Park Lake had breached and then everyone came back. But, really at that point, there was nothing we could do. It was just way too much water, way too quick.”

The state of emergency, which came into effect at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, was isolated to the northeast and southeast parts of the community. The town said in a local media post that the reason for the isolation is “to access emergency services, and utilize all means necessary to save structures and infrastructure.”

The breach forced the town to put down a large section of earth on the intersection of Tupper Avenue and Mill Street, in order to keep the water flow that was going across the park from reaching the nearby houses. Sandbags were also place down along the curbs of Mill, Davidson and Hamilton Street. As of Thursday, July 2, Lions Riverbend Park and Campground had been completely overrun with water on two separate occasion, but nearby hours remained safe. 

People step up to help

In response to the unprecedented rain and flooding, a large contingent of private citizens also stepped up to help when it mattered most. People volunteered to fill sandbags on Canada Day. 

McCutcheon said that those people, combined with the town administration, staff and council members, who had been working around the clock, should be commended. 

“The people who came out to lend a hand. We had some many trucks [show up]. It was phenomenal,” McCutcheon stated. “Everybody stepped up, because by lunchtime [on July 1], many members of our staff had already been going non-stop. [Manager of Operations] Denis Saquet and [Public Work Supervisor] Andrew Hall. Even Councillor Darryl Gerrard, you could just tell, he had been up all night. But he was still at it. Several others as well; members of council and the staff. We were just very fortunate to see people come out and offer their help and it is appreciated.”

Notable updates

The Town of Neepawa has notified residents that, as of Thursday, July 2,  the sewage system is nearing capacity. They are encouraging everyone in town to limit their water usage as much as possible. 

The following preventative measures had been done, or were in the process of completion: A pertinent berm will be constructed at the Water Treatment Plant; Temporary berm built near Tupper and Mill, plans for permanent one to be put in place immediately; Hamilton Street and Park Lake bridges accessed. Hamilton has been found to still be in good condition, but Park Lake will require reconstruction. Plans are being put in place to ensure access to the area as quickly as possible.

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Countless local volunteers worked to fill and distribute sandbags.  

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One of the play structures at Riverbend Park was partially submerged.

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Volunteers worked to sandbag properties along Mill St.

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A view of the water rushing from Park Lake after the dam broke.

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Dirt was dug up from part of the soccer fields in the Flats to use for a dike to stop water near Riverbend Park.

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Water was rushing over the bridge at the bottom of Hamilton St. when the water was highest.

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After the water started to recede, the damage to the Hamilton St. bridge was visible.