"We are only too familiar with excessive high water events." That from Ralph Groening, Reeve for the R.M. of Morris, upon hearing that Manitoba’s Hydrologic Forecast Centre is predicting is a high risk of major spring flooding along the main stem of the Red River. The risk extends to the Red's tributaries as well, including the Roseau, Rat and Pembina Rivers.

"Based on the snow that we see out there, the report did not surprise us at all," he added, noting the projections are quite the contrast from the drought scenario that unfolded last summer. "We were in a meeting with Pembina Valley Water Co-op talking about drought challenges and all of the events that took place this past year, and at the same time we had the forecast coming out, so it was an interesting contrast to the reality that looks like we will be facing and drought certainly is not one of them."

In its first flood outlook of the season, the Centre stated with normal weather conditions, levels would be near spring peak levels observed in 2019-20 from Emerson to the Floodway. Unfavourable weather conditions would lead to levels similar to 2009, which Groening said was a significant event for the R.M. of Morris.

"We were really challenged in the community of Rosenort in particular, and of course people wanted to continue their lives as best as possible," he explained. "We were able to allow essential workers in and out of the community using the fire departments as guide people, and the Province of Manitoba was very supportive. We had excessive water levels both west of the community and also east, and so we have addressed that challenge and taken some actions that I think will protect us if we do have another 2009 event."

Those actions, noted Groening, include raising PR 422 west of town and installing a new bridge. As well, PR 330 east and north of town has also been raised and hard-surfaced.

"We've always looked at the 2009 flood event as the type of level we should protect at, partly because it's doable and a '97 level flood just isn't, but also the American border closes when the water reaches higher than that level. So, really there's no other consideration."

Groening added, the rate of thaw will be a large factor in the degree of flood scenario that plays out in his municipality.

"We will make some plans for our responses, but really the work that has to be done to prepare is mostly in place," he noted, adding some initial meetings with local emergency officials have already taken place. "We are not quite done with February so it's a little early to finalize any kind of plans. We also want to reassure people that we are aware of the challenge that they and we collectively are going to face, and so we will be there to support and do what we can."