The Floods
There have been large floods in the history of this municipality, although there has never been two floods, both large in magnitude, in consecutive years. This unfortunately happened in 1996 and 1997. Both floods in these years were caused by similar factors. Heavy snowfall, among the highest ever recorded, long cold winters and large blizzards in the late winter and early spring brought on the heavy floodwaters.
The 1997 flood, now called the Flood of the Century, was not backed up by ice jams like the 1996 flood. The 1997 flood was larger in water flow but did not cause as much damage to the municipality as the 1996 flood did because there was not any backed up water to flood out the higher lands.
St. Andrews is not prone to flooding unless there are ice jams. Unfortunately due to ice jams north of Selkirk, floodwaters were backed up and started causing problems in the spring of 1996. The municipality declared a state of Emergency on April 29 because the backed up floodwaters were flooding many homes in the municipality.
The backed up water flooded the low-lying Breezy Point Road area, and backed up the water down the Netley and Wavey creeks. Many of the residents were forced to immediately evacuate their homes when this happened.
This flooded many unprepared homes in the area. The ice jam was relieved on April 20, 1996 and water levels in the Breezy Point area immediately receded two to three feet.
Although the ice jam was cleared north of Selkirk, closer to Petersfield more ice jams started to cause further flooding on the Netley and Wavey Creeks. Some residents in this area had some time to prepare with earth and sandbag dikes. Unfortunately, the further jams in this area caused the rising water to spill over most of the dikes.
Approximately 200 people were evacuated from their homes in the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews. The state of emergency was lifted on May 3, 1996 and all evacuees were permitted to return to their homes only if the water that was on their flood ravished properties had receded.
Although the state of emergency was lifted the flood left behind a lot of damage to the area. Many residents in the flood stricken areas had to repair the costly damages to their houses and clean up the garbage that the floodwaters left behind.
The floodwaters of the Red River devastated much of Southern Manitoba again in the spring of 1997. Fortunately the Rural Municipality of St.Andrews was not hit as hard as it was the year before. Preventative measures were taken to make sure that the ice jams of 1996 did not once again take place. Bombardiers drilled over 40,000 holes in the ice north of Selkirk with augers. The drilling began on March 30 and lasted for several days. Fortunately, the drilled holes helped to prevent the ice jams. The holes helped to make the ice easier to break up because they made the ice weaker with all of the empty space. Because there were no ice jams many of the areas that were flooded the year before were not at risk.
The amount of water flowing down the Red River exceeded the 1996 flood by 54,000 cubic feet per second. Since there were no ice jams the water was free to flow straight through to Lake Winnipeg without being backed up. The Municipality had to declare a state of emergency on April 29 because many homes and properties were again flooded. The low-lying land of Breezy Point Road flooded again as it did in the previous year.
The hardest hit areas in the municipality were around the Netley, Wavey and Muckle Creeks. These were the hardest hit because the houses and buildings on the shoreline properties are built fairly close to the creeks which happen to rise very fast when flood waters arrive. Not as many residents had to evacuate because the water was not as high in as many of the areas as it was the year before. By May 27 all of our flood evacuees had returned home.
A 1 .2-km dike was built on River Road in the southern part of the municipality in fear of floodwaters reaching the homes that were near. The dike was made out of earth and taken down once the waters receded. The floodwaters never spilled over the dike and did not harm the houses that it protected. River Road had to be rebuilt in this area because of the damages that were incurred when the dike was built.
The Government of Manitoba asked the military for assistance before the flood hit the province because they knew from previous forecasts that the flooding was going to be very severe in Southern Manitoba. The soldiers were based out of various small towns within the province that needed assistance in helping fight the flood. The military from the First Battalion Royal Canadian Regiment were based out of the Selkirk Recreation Complex for the duration of the flood. They assisted municipal residents in building sandbag and earth dikes around their homes and properties. They also stayed to help with any clean up that was needed. A military hospital was also stationed in our municipality. It was set up at the St. Andrews Community Club. The doctors and nurses aided the injured and sick soldiers. Fortunately there were not any severe injuries to any of the soldiers