At least two families near St. Jean Baptiste have been told to evacuate as the rising Red River threatens to flood their homes.
Eight other families in the Rural Municipality of Montcalm could soon lose road access to their properties. The municipality declared a state of emergency as water from Red and Roseau rivers is about to cover Provincial Road 246, east of St. Jean Baptiste.
“We’ve strongly suggested to leave and they agreed with us because it was their first flood like this,” said John Barnaby, emergency co-ordinator for the municipality.
The families moved into their homes after the flood in 2011 and this is their first experience with dramatically rising waters. “They don’t have boats to get out,” Barnaby said.
The other property owners have boats and have been through floods before, he said.
Several other roads in the area are already under water.
The area has had a few flood-free years recently, but water from the Roseau River often spills its banks and goes into the Red, which causes a surge downstream.
There’s no threat to the homes themselves yet, Barnaby said.
“Their properties are good, they’re either dyked or they’re on pads, so their houses are safe,” he said.
The crest of the Red River is expected to reach Pembina, N.D. by Friday, and Barnaby said the crest usually reaches St. Jean Baptiste two or three days later. To buy some time until the gravel road eventually washes out, the municipality is laying berms to block the water.
“If the water does go over, is it going to wash out anyway. We’re just trying to hold it for a little longer,” he said.
Because the RM ordered a mandatory evacuation for the two families, Barnaby said they are able to access assistance for accommodations and other needs.