Winnipeg homeowners grapple with damaged homes and crumbling basements amid spring storm flooding

A spring storm, which brought up to 60 millimeters of rain and snow, flooded and damaged the homes of many Winnipeggers, leaving some wondering what they should do next.

Amber Anderson returned from work early Saturday evening to find her entire street flooded in Saint-Boniface near Eugénie and Des Meurons streets.

“My neighbors were trying to move their vehicles and by then it was already like… all the way to the gates,” she said in an interview with CBC News.

“It was raining so much it was just backing up on sidewalks and cars.”

When she entered her basement, Anderson saw about 0.6 meters (two feet) of water on the floor and immediately began scooping and draining the water.

Water pooled on the side of Amber Anderson’s house, seeping into her basement. (Submitted by Amber Anderson)

“The water was coming in so fast and running down the sides of the house, like I was standing underneath, literally like a shower faucet,” she said.

Anderson says she was afraid to go to the basement, but when she did, everything was soaked and destroyed, including her daughter’s sentimental items.

It wasn’t what she wanted to see after a 12-hour shift at the hospital.

“It’s very disheartening. It sucks,” she said. “A long shift in an intensive care unit and you’ve given everyone at work everything you can and you come home and you’re on your own and you have to deal with it all on your own.”

Anderson lives alone and asked her father to drive from Petersfield, Man. to help, but he left on Saturday evening to deal with flooding in his own garage, she said.

“I was literally up for most of the night and continually tried to mop it all up,” Anderson said.

City offering sandbags

Anderson says the city needs to be more proactive when it comes to flood prevention by hiring more employees to clear and move snow in the winter.

“They can’t have banks in front of our house that were as big as me sitting there for them to invade our properties in the spring when they melt,” she said.

In an emailed statement, the city says sandbags are available 24 hours a day for residents experiencing flooding and can be picked up at three locations: 1220 Pacific Ave., 1090 Thomas Ave. and 1539 Waverley St.

A pile of sandbags is visible at 1090 Thomas Avenue in Winnipeg. The city says they are available 24 hours a day. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

Anderson says she tried to get sandbags, but when she got to Thomas and Waverley, the bags were ripped and shredded.

At the Thomas location on Sunday afternoon, David Locke managed to catch a few for his property.

Locke said his garden flooded about six inches of water to the foundation, which hadn’t happened since 1997.

Anderson says when she arrived at the Waverley location to get sandbags, they were all ripped and shredded. (Submitted by Amber Anderson)

“It is what it is,” he said. “What can you do?”

“I’m just trying to absorb the water that’s inside and hopefully that stops soon,” Locke said.

Support through community groups

Anderson says she found support through online community groups to help her through this stressful time.

“We came together, as a community, to create these groups because there is a lack of government support in general,” she said.

Anderson says she’s seen neighbors offering their trucks to help get sandbags for others.

“These are the people we go to when we need help, because we know the city and no one else is going to come help us,” Anderson said.

Workers put sand at 1090 Thomas Avenue. The city says staff are working around the clock to respond to the spring storm. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

The city said in a news release that Winnipeg crews are working hard around the clock to clean ditches, catch basins and culverts so water can drain more efficiently.

At Kildonan Park, residents are asked to avoid the duck pond and all open water areas and exercise caution near streams and bridges due to flooding from Lord Selkirk Creek, the statement said.

Drivers who encounter standing water on the roads should report it to 311, even though its call center is experiencing longer wait times.