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Winnipeg Escapes Serious Damage as Flood Destroys 100 Homes in Suburb

May 04, 1997|From Reuters

WINNIPEG, Canada — The swollen Red River flooded a village on the outskirts of Winnipeg on Saturday, destroying about 100 homes, but the water failed to breach the defenses protecting the heart of Manitoba province's biggest city.

The upscale community of Grande Pointe, home to about 325 people on the southeast edge of Winnipeg, was the latest victim of the surging "Red Sea" that has devastated North Dakota and southern Manitoba.

Despite the waters lapping at its flanks, Winnipeg, a city of 650,000, kept the flooding at bay through a frantic campaign to strengthen dikes, erect sandbag barriers and pump water from areas where the defenses were leaking.

One trouble spot was a leaking dike near a sewage treatment plant on the city's south side. A city spokesman said Saturday that workers were trying to save the dike but that Canadian army engineers had given up hope. If it bursts, residents of the Fort Richmond neighborhood will have to evacuate.

The city's savior has been a massive 29-mile ditch known as the Floodway that splits the Red River as it approaches Winnipeg. It was built after a devastating 1950 flood forced 100,000 residents from their homes, and it diverts the waters around the city.

The city will not be able to claim victory until Tuesday or Wednesday, when the water is forecast to begin dropping.

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