This week I made the “Top 100 list”… of river properties in Winnipeg at the highest risk for flooding. It’s a rather dubious honour, but one that does get people to rally around in support and community spirit.

Flooded backyard pre-sandbags

There’s nothing like a natural disaster to bring people together.

The City of Winnipeg has been organized and thorough in its flood preparations and information services, especially to homeowners at risk. In my case, the city surveyors have been by, the stakes are in the ground to mark the height and location of the dike required, and 2000 sandbags will be delivered on Saturday.

In addition to the City of Winnipeg’s staff, I have a team of “flood experts,” friends and volunteers who have offered to lend their time and muscles in throwing, piling and placing the sandbags needed to build the long wall of flood protection in my backyard.

And some of them are actually looking forward to it!

Our “river city” of Winnipeg has experienced a few major spring floods in the last five years, and in 1997 we survived the “flood of the century” as the Red River rose and peaked at 24.5 feet (normal summer level is 6.5 feet). In the ’97 flood, according to the City of Winnipeg’s stats, about 8 million (!) sandbags were delivered in the city.

Each time, I’ve marveled at the power of a community, united to face a common challenge – coworkers, friends, volunteers and complete strangers – doing what they can to help one another. It’s like the rising river offers an opportunity for random acts of kindness, unbelievable goodwill, and maybe a chance to be a “local hero.”

Without diminishing the cost, inconvenience and property damage this massive influx of water can cause, I prefer to witness, and appreciate, the flood of goodwill that goes with it.

To all the local heroes out there, thank you!

And bring on the sandbags.

Author's Bio: 

I’m a girl from the Canadian prairies who likes wide-open spaces, fresh ideas, a great story, and inspiring environments, buildings and art of all kinds. I have written feature stories about architecture, urban, rural and lakeside living, cool neighbourhoods, and everything from business to pleasure (tourism and travel).

I believe that powerful writing, too, can link the artistic with the practical.

My feature writing has appeared in: Ottawa Citizen, Winnipeg Free Press, The Western Producer, The Cottager, Manitoba Business Magazine, Manitoba’s Northern Experience, Home & City, Manitoba Gardener, Ciao and up! (WestJet’s magazine).

Barbara Edie