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City of Winnipeg
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History of Winnipeg

1997 Flood Facts

  • Parliament Buildings in the background just above the water's edge99.9 % of Winnipeggers are protected by the four major flood control works (Shellmouth Dam & Reservoir, Assiniboine River Diversion, Red River Floodway and Primary Diking System).
  • At the flood crest, the flow in the Red River approaching Winnipeg was 138,000 cubic feet per second, enough water to fill Winnipeg's Pan Am Olympic Pool once every second. Approximately half that flow was diverted around Winnipeg by the Red River Floodway.
  • More than 3,000 City staff were involved in the flood effort for a 2 1/2 week period starting April 21st.
  • 800 properties were protected by secondary dikes: 750 by sandbags and 50 by earth fill.
  • Approximately 8.1 million sandbags were filled and delivered in the City. If you placed the sandbags end to end in a straight line, they would run roughly from Winnipeg to Vancouver. The City's four sandbag machines produced 4.4 million sandbags and volunteers hand filled 3.7 million sandbags.
  • Sandbag removal was essentially complete by the end of June, 1997.
  • Over 800,000 cubic yards (600,000 cubic meters) of clay was excavated for earth dike construction. This was approximately 45,000 truck loads. This earth would fill the Winnipeg Football Stadium to a height of 200 feet or a 20 storey building.
  • The primary diking system was raised with earth fill in 25 locations an average of three feet.
  • 50 temporary earth dikes were modified to become permanent structures. Of these, 10 were primary dikes and 40 were secondary dikes.
  • All the City's 34 flood pumping stations were operated and a total of 131 flap and positive gates were checked and/or operated in the sewer systems.
  • The Flood Hotline handled 126,000 calls (peak day was 12,600 calls on April 30th). At the peak there were 60 operators and a 24 hour operation.
  • The City's Flood Information page on the Internet was accessed over 143,000 times with a maximum of 14,800 hits on May 1st.
  • There were 74 printed news releases and 24 live daily news conferences.
  • For 16 consecutive days and nights, Videon and Shaw Cable TV covered the flood, including the daily news conferences. It is estimated that 77% of Winnipeggers watched the cable channels.
  • City council members and staff conducted more than 2,000 media interviews.
  • City staff placed more than 70,000 volunteers.
  • It is estimated that sandbag diking required over 200,000 volunteer days, where one day is an eight hour shift.
  • Almost 1,000 citizens attended the City's sandbag dike building demonstrations.
  • Over 600 media personnel were covering the flood, including 150 national and international media from as far away as Germany, Holland and Japan.
  • Over 9,000 city residents representing 3,000 homes, were evacuated during the flood, primarily in the south end of the City. By mid-May, 97% were returned home.
  • More than 23,000 individuals received social services including shelter, food, clothing and personal services.
  • The original scenario of the potential Z-dike failure meant the potential evacuation of 125,000 City residents.
  • The total estimated flood costs in the City are $51 million, of which approximately $12 million is expected to be the City's share.
Last update: September 19, 2014