Report Says Government Shall Provide Better Flood Protections for Manitoba First Nations

An independent review has concluded that the Manitoba government overall performed very well while responding to the disastrous flood of 2011, however, there is a severe need of improving the flood forecasting and protection for First Nations. The task force report revealed on Friday, stated that the province actually began preparations to attend the floods way before time, while its officials worked day and night, to deal with one of the biggest floods in Manitoba’s history.

The report admired the efforts of the government to breach a dike and intensifying a flood diversion plan in order to ease the pressure on the Assiniboine River. At the same time, the review pointed out that inexperienced flood forecasters were making effort with old-fashioned models and computers, while they attempted to forecast and calculate how much water is accumulating in rivers and lakes. Furthermore, the report recommends that the province shall insist on the federal government, which is primarily responsible for the First Nations, to develop an emergency management plan for flooding on reserves.

The situation worsened in the province when severe rainstorms upstream in Saskatchewan and the United States caused the Assiniboine River to swell. Hence, the residents in low-lying areas of Brandon, i.e. the province’s second-largest city, were warned to flee within hours. The report mentioned that “the flood forecasting model being used … is a snowmelt model and is unable to produce reliable runoff forecasts for rainfall events.” It also mentioned that “contrary to traditional understanding, most of the largest floods in Manitoba are the result of rainfall on top of, or shortly after, the snowmelt event.”

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