With floodwaters receding, the state of local emergency is ending in the Rural Municipality of Ritchot.
The state of local emergency went into effect on April 26th in Ritchot. At the time, the Red River was still well below its eventual peak.
The Red River crested at Ste. Agathe on May 13th at 772.2 feet and since then it has dropped about 17 inches. The Red also crested at St. Adolphe on May 13th at 768.0 feet and since then has dropped about 14 inches.
Ritchot Mayor Chris Ewen says it is comforting to finally see floodwaters going down. He notes it was a stressful time as Mayor, never knowing what your day would bring, what messages would need to be sent out, which residences would need to be evacuated and how many motorists might need to be rescued after driving their vehicle into a dangerous situation.
"That happened more frequently than we wanted," he says. "So to see the water receding and to not get the calls about these emergencies is very positive."
The state of local emergency will end on May 26th in Ritchot. Ewen notes there are already about 30 families that have returned to their property, after adhering to evacuation notices. A total of 232 evacuation notices went out, with 107 residences following through.
Last week, Ewen said flood damage in Ritchot alone could total $2 million. He notes the destruction left in the wake of the high waters becomes more and more evident as levels continue to drop.
"You can dramatically see what currents do and water levels do to just road infrastructure alone," he says. "It's detrimental and quite devastating what water can do in a matter of four weeks."
Not only will the municipality be incurring costs from damage and cleanup, but Ewen says residents have their own properties to take care of as well. He urges residents to document everything, including taking photos of the damage to driveways and yards. Ewen says you should keep a list of anything you might have lost and snap pictures of all the debris your yard has now inherited.
Meanwhile, Ewen says he has seen some pretty crazy images from this year's flood. He recalls seeing an oil tank stuck in a tree after strong winds blew it there. Ewen notes he has also seen a dog house on the side of Provincial Road 200, a chicken coop floating in a farmer's field, porta-potties being swept away and even a motorhome in the middle of the river.
"It's devastating what water can do and I don't think people generally understand what current the Red River has, it is a strong, strong water body and it moves water," he says. "It will grab what it finds, it will take it with it."
Ewen says he is thankful to now be on the receding side of the flood, noting volunteers were starting to burn out. But, with some roads starting to reopen, Ewen says the damage now stares them in the face of extreme cracks, washed-out shoulders and severe potholes.