Officials in the Rural Municipality of Montcalm are not raising alarm bells quite yet following the province's upgraded flood forecast for the Red River.
Manitoba's Hydrologic Forecast Centre is now expecting a major risk of flooding on the Red this spring. A generally low risk remains for the Roseau River. Both waterways flow through the municipality.
"We're going to continue to prepare for flooding as we do every year with opening up our drains and ditches, reviewing all of our procedures and policies, updating our contact list - that kind of stuff," explains Jolene Bird, Chief Administrative Officer for the municipality. "We just go along as normal for now and continue to watch the river and see what it does."
According to an update from Manitoba Transportaion and Infrastructure on Thursday, Bird says normal weather conditions moving forward would lead to spring 2019 flood levels, and unfavourable weather would mean a spring 2020 flood. At these levels, Bird explains PTH 75 south of Morris is not expected to close. Overland flooding is expected to close some roads on the municipality's gravel road network, however, and there might be a few evacuations, but nothing large-scale, notes Bird. Properties most at-risk are those along St. Mary's Road and the old Highway 201 along the Red River.
Pumping operations are also expected in the community of St. Jean, and Bird anticipates a partial dike closure on the east side of town where the old bridge used to stand. Regardless, she is hopeful the entrances to the community will remain open.
And as the municipality prepares for this year's flood season, Bird notes, repairs have been made to only about 30 to 40 per cent of damaged sites from last year.
"We still have lots to do, lots. We have been working all winter on debris cleanup and ditching, projects that can be done when it's cold, but there are still a lot of road repairs that need to be done. We did emergency repairs last year and now we need to do the full repairs."
Once this spring's overland flooding recedes, Bird says any new damage will need to be evaluated and compared to what was sustained in 2022, and the municipality will need to again work with the province and the Disaster Financial Assistance program in repairing re-damaged sites.
"This isn't the first time this happened when we have back-to-back years, so we've been through this situation before," she adds.