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Rain, rain, go away! - Which is not unduly obvious, as I am about to explain
Rain, rain, go away!
Happy Canada Day and happy birthday to my friends who just had birthdays!

There's flood-like conditions in Winnipeg at the moment. Not much danger locally, thank goodness, but still, I wonder if ducks' nests have been destroyed by all the rising water levels.

Winnipeg is built around the intersection of two rivers. The Red River, which flows north, and the smaller Assiniboine River which flows east until it joins the Red.

Each Spring, the water levels get quite high from all the melted snow running into the rivers. In 1997, there was a major flood threat. Volunteers and the army were called in, and a lot of the locals laid down sandbags. If not for these preparations, Winnipeg wouldn't have escaped the flood - it was a close call. Afterwards, the city built "the floodway", a series of dry moats to divert floodwaters. (This all happened long before I moved here, in case I've gotten the facts wrong.)

This Spring and early summer we've had so much rain that we've matched the record levels again. The floodway is helping. Now, instead of entire neighbourhoods in danger, it's only about 100 houses. Other parts of the province, however, have already had serious damage and evacuations.

My original idea was to take some photos, wait for the water levels to drop, take some more photos, and then do a before-and-after comparison. Instead, the water levels rose even higher! Gaaah. So here's... well, you'll see.

In front of our lovely legislature building there's a little park. Steps lead down to the Assiniboine River, and there's a gravel path that goes right along the river's edge. That path is so low that even during the Spring thaw it's not generally accessible. But this... this is ridiculous.

That photo was taken two weeks ago. There's supposed to be a large, semi-circular space extending as far out as that cement thing sticking out of the water on the far right. (There are two ducks sitting on it.) But now, two weeks later, that cement thing can't be seen. The water hasn't gone over that top step yet, but it's pretty darn close.

When I ride my bicycle to work, I take it through this area. I have to cross a very busy street, and there are no traffic lights at the river - but there's a path that goes under the bridge. Here's a photo that was taken under the bridge two weeks ago. I apologize that there's nothing here to indicate scale.

And now, two weeks later, I can't even go under the bridge! The yellow stripes are gone and the water is almost at the edge of the red stripes. I'm guessing that must represent the 1997 record.

After the bridge, I bike west for a about another 3 or 4 km until I come to another park. In this park, a stream flows south into the Assiniboine. I ride down a medium-sized slope (a rare thing in the prairies) and cross a little footbridge. Here's a photo that I took last year.

Isn't that nice? That was taken in mid-September. The water levels are quite low at that time of year. There's a sort of pond area, and then the water flows over a cement... thing, and joins the Assiniboine River.

Two weeks ago, here's what the footbridge looked like. I don't know what happened to the orange paint. Note the park bench on the far right; the water was just touching it.

Here's the same footbridge on the same day, but viewed from up the slope. As you can see, that shallow trickle of water flowing over the cement thing into the river (beyond the bridge) is now substantially wider and higher.

Two weeks later, I can't even get all the way down the slope any more.

Consequently, I can't take photos from the same spots as before. Here's looking up the stream, at the footbridge and the park bench. I know they're there, somewhere... but now they're completely submerged.

Okay, back up the slope.





It's at times like this that one's puniness in the face of Nature makes itself known. If a guy pushes you over, you can blame his actions on his behaviour and push him back. But water... water just IS. It's there. You can't really do much about it. In the words of the two six-year-olds who arrived on their bikes as I was taking photos, "Whoa!..."

Current Mood: impressed impressed

15 comments or Leave a comment
From: pobig Date: July 2nd, 2005 11:53 am (UTC) (Link)
Nice pictures! It really does give a good sense of the extent of the flooding. It reminds me of some of the higher levels reached by the Thames in London, Ontario, although it never flooded anything but parkland, mostly because there was a spectacular flood 100-odd years ago and after that no one was dumb enough to build anything on the flood plain any more.

auriam From: auriam Date: July 2nd, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Maybe because you guys don't have silly things like government bailouts for people dumb enough to build on the floodplain or in hurricane-prone regions without protection (like in the Outer Banks of North Carolina)... here, it's like, "If you're rich once, no matter what you do, the government will keep you rich forever; if you're poor, you're boned."
From: pobig Date: July 2nd, 2005 05:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Too true. In London I think the city just zoned it all non-residental, non-business, non-build-anything-but-benches-and-swimming-pools.
auriam From: auriam Date: July 2nd, 2005 05:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
*sigh*. No public space anymore... now even private space is being controlled... what was that quote from, "Someday life will be nothing but jail and shopping"...?
kfops From: kfops Date: July 2nd, 2005 04:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Hey, thanks for posting the pictures...! Coincidentally they came in very handy for a telephone conversation I was having this morning, so it was like double-bonus photo-day!

If you're more curious about the flood way, there's an article on Wikipedia about it as well. It was first used in 1969 and the flood of 1997 over-whelmed it.

Yeah, now I'm just being a nerd.
pierrekrahn From: pierrekrahn Date: July 2nd, 2005 07:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
"with 76.5 million cubic metres of earth excavated—more than what was moved for the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal."
- Whoa. I had no idea.

"It is one of three man made structures that can be seen from space (low Earth orbit)"
- Whoa again. I, once again, had no idea.

Both almost sound like myth (or urban legends, or whever you want to call them).
kfops From: kfops Date: July 2nd, 2005 11:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
But I found the information on the Internet!

You're not implying that it could be wrong, are you?!

I think I've heard both those facts before somewhere else, but I honestly could put a source to it. Wikipedia tends to be pretty reliable, as I have never personally supplied them with any information.
orleans From: orleans Date: July 3rd, 2005 08:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Actually, it did its job in 1997 and was not overwhelmed. :) There was only some localized flooding inside the floodway on low lying areas (like street across from the BDI). However, there were several flooded towns south of the city.
kfops From: kfops Date: July 4th, 2005 02:19 am (UTC) (Link)
Whoops! My hand-grenade logic didn't quite work on that one!

I probably should've figured that out, the way the house I was living in wasn't full of water and stuff. Heh. My bad!
porsupah From: porsupah Date: July 2nd, 2005 11:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't express how disappointed I am not to see a snorkel in any of those photos.

I do like the helpful barriers by the legislature building - just to remind people there's a lot of water there.
entropicana From: entropicana Date: July 3rd, 2005 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)

That is impressive stuff, and just a little scary. When you hear about these things on the news, you rarely see photos like this. They're never this placid and they never give you context or comparision to normal conditions. It's fascinating to see how it gradually crept up... and up and up...

Are you sure you're living well away from the inexorable march of the river?
dronon From: dronon Date: July 4th, 2005 04:41 am (UTC) (Link)
Um... well, I actually live a short distance away from where the two rivers intersect. Luckily it's still down a slope in my area, so there's no danger for me. Unless the river somehow scoops out huge chunks of land along its edges. :)
orleans From: orleans Date: July 3rd, 2005 08:52 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the pictures. I knew it was kinda rainy there, but I had no idea it was that bad. It looks like it would during a really bad spring! :O

is that Omands Creek in the final set of pictures? I used to live in St. James, and it looks rather familiar. :)
dronon From: dronon Date: July 4th, 2005 04:42 am (UTC) (Link)
Yep, that's Omands (Omans?) Creek! I can never remember that name for some reason, unless someone else says it. :P
dakhun From: dakhun Date: July 4th, 2005 09:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I should put together some before/after comparisons of the flooding here too, though it was not as severe here as it was in Alberta or Manitoba. However, the high water is staying high - the South Saskatchewan River is still only a few inches below the highest level it had (which was almost 2 weeks ago).

I wonder if ducks' nests have been destroyed by all the rising water levels

Undoubtedly... and that happened here too. There's an island in the middle of the river right in downtown Saskatoon. It used to be covered and surrounded by all sorts of water birds. But now it only has the tops of shrubs showing and the birds are not there anymore.
15 comments or Leave a comment