Carman faces frustrating waves of floodwater due to ice jams

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Carman faces frustrating waves of floodwater due to ice jams

People in Carman are being told to leave their flood dikes up for the rest of the month because several more waves of water are coming from the west.

"We just want to make sure that we don't have to start resandbagging places. So whether it will go on for a month, we don't know, but we're saying leave them there until the end of the month or until somebody tells you that everything has passed," Mayor Bob Mitchell said.

Carman, 75 kilometres southwest of Winnipeg, is facing its worst flood since 1979, with ice jams causing the Boyne River to surge and recede.

"So as the ice jams upstream give way, we get a surge of water here," Mitchell said. "So we're expecting one within a day and a half, and then there's another one following. Now how big they're going to be, we don't know."

It's challenging because ice jams make it difficult to predict the water level, Mitchell said.

"You can't get at them to bust them up," he said. "Here the ice jam was like five or six miles long, in a part of the river that's totally inaccessible, bush and that kind of thing. So it's frustrating, because we have no way to control the amount of water that's coming into town."

Dozens of homes and condos are protected by sandbags, with two more properties sandbagged Monday night. If the water goes up too high, as many as 300 properties will be at risk of flood damage in a town with a population of about 3,000.

The river level rose about 8-10 inches Monday night and officials aren't sure if that's due to a push from the west (upstream) or a backup caused by ice jams in the east (downstream).

Carman officials declared a state of emergency over the weekend, when 30 to 40 homes had water in basements and crawl spaces, Mitchell said.

A bridge in the centre of the town was damaged Sunday night after ice jams caused it to heave. As well, many roads in the surrounding municipality will need to be replaced or repaired, Mitchell said.

Schools are closed because many of the rural students can't make it in. Many of the bus routes have been either washed out or are being cut by the municipality to divert water.

The town's water treatment plant was shut down for a while following several water main breaks, but that service has been restored.

However, the water treatment plant remains closed, so officials are asking people to limit water use as they're currently getting their water supply from an alternative source about 25 kilometres away.