Manitobans in the Red River Valley are still dealing with ‘devastating’ flooding over a windy weekend


Just two months ago, Chao Shen bought his dream home in the St. Adolphe, Manitoba area and set to work making it a home where he and his wife could raise a family.

Now it’s more of a nightmare, with the basement of his new home underwater.

“I feel sad, very sad, because I just bought this March 8 and spent $40,000 on renovations, and now everything is flooded,” he said.

On Friday, Shen returned to his home in the community just south of Winnipeg, after being evacuated from the area due to overland flooding.

He returned home to find his entire basement full of water, almost to the first floor.

Floodwaters pour out from Shen’s basement and back up to its ground floor. (Submitted by Chao Shen)

Since the “Flood of the Century” in 1997, all communities in the Red River Valley have been protected by ring dikes.

Shen’s house is just outside the Saint-Adolphe seawall.

He said he had heard of the great flood in Manitoba in 1997, but thought his house would be safe from flooding. Now he fears having to move his house to higher ground.

He doesn’t know yet if the insurance will cover the damage.

Shen has spent much of the past two days trying to pump water, but can’t keep up.

“I just wish the rain could stop,” he said.

Pipes come out of Shen’s house. His whole basement is flooded. (Submitted by Chao Shen)

Chris Ewen, the mayor of the municipality of Ritchot, which includes Saint-Adolphe, says these are difficult times for people in the Red River Valley.

As it dodged the worst of the latest weather system to cross the province, the region saw light rain Friday and Saturday.

Gusty winds also continued in southern Manitoba, which Environment Canada said on Friday could raise water levels in flooded areas.

“We’re seeing a ton of road closures right now, especially with the high winds we had last night as well. Lots of debris on the roads, just dangerous driving all around, even in our main thoroughfares, our major highways between communities,” Ewen said in an interview with CBC News Network on Saturday.

So far, 230 households in the RM of Ritchot have received evacuation notices, and about half of the 850 affected residents have left their homes.

“It’s very devastating. And it’s not just physically devastating, it’s emotionally and mentally draining,” Ewen said.

“The people who work behind the scenes, they work night and day 24 hours a day to make sure the sandbags come out, to make sure the houses are protected. So, you know, I can’t imagine what which most of them go through.”

Floodwaters washed out roads in many parts of the province, including here in the Rural Municipality of Ritchot, as pictured May 10. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

The RM of Ritchot is one of 30 municipalities, not including First Nations, who have declared a local state of emergency, a provincial spokesperson said Saturday. That’s four more since May 9.

To date, community members in Ritchot have filled 150,000 sandbags and worked around the clock to stem the flow of water.

Ewen acknowledged the provincial government’s help, but says there’s still more to be done to protect communities like his.

“We need more road infrastructure improvements. We need to raise these roads. We need to increase the height of berms and ring dikes around our communities – not just Ritchot, it’s all over Manitoba,” said Ewen.

“The province needs to do more to move forward.”

A spokesperson for the provincial government says it has already announced “a major motorway improvement program“, and the impacts of the floods will be taken into account to advance the repair projects.

30 municipalities under state of emergency

The 30 municipalities under a state of emergency as of Saturday, depending on the province, are:

  • Town of Arborg.
  • Rural Municipality of Armstrong.
  • Municipality of Bifrost–Riverton.
  • Rural Municipality of Cartier.
  • Municipality of Clanwilliam–Erickson.
  • Rural Municipality of Coldwell.
  • Rural Municipality of Dufferin.
  • Municipality of Emerson-Franklin.
  • Rural Municipality of Ethelbert.
  • Rural Municipality of Fisher.
  • Rural Municipality of Grahamdale.
  • Rural Municipality of Grey.
  • Rural Municipality of Gimli.
  • Rural Municipality of Headingley.
  • Rural Municipality of McCreary.
  • Rural Municipality of Macdonald.
  • Rural Municipality of Montcalm.
  • Town of Morden.
  • Rural Municipality of Morris.
  • Municipality of Norfolk Treherne.
  • Municipality of Reynolds.
  • MR from Rhineland.
  • Rural Municipality of Ritchot.
  • Municipality of Pembina.
  • Rural Municipality of Saint-Laurent.
  • Rural Municipality of Thompson.
  • Rural Municipality of West Interlake.
  • Rural Municipality of Whitemouth.
  • Winnipeg City Beach.
  • Rural Municipality of Woodlands.