Winnipeg’s Sandbag Making Machine, April 8 2013

The City of Winnipeg was kind enough to arrange a visit to the Sandbag machine out in Transcona.

Brent J. Kowalewich, C.E.T. Supervisor of Street Maintenance – East Area City of Winnipeg, Public Works Department, Streets Maintenance Division

showed me around the yard on a frozen April day.

I asked if the machine had a nickname. He said no. My Friend Daniel Thau Eleff said later on that day that they should call it “Sandy”.


I believe this machine was invented by a clever fellow in Elie Manitoba named Guy Bergeron, and he sometimes refers to it as the “spider” or “octopus”.

Sand goes in the hopper and breaks up the chunks.

Randy Hull, Emergency Preparedness Coordinator for the City of Winnipeg also met with me and we talked about floods and safety issues.

In the lower level of City Hall is the EOC or emergency operations centre, which used to be a Law Library, but is now set up with desks and computers and books. It is well organized and capable of handing many different types of emergencies for the city. Modern communications might jam up during a crisis when everyone starts Tweeting and Phoning and Googling to see whats going on, so there are HAM Radio operators that step in and ensure things can be coordinated through radio code VE4EOC in a little room next door.  The Radio System is there to ensure communication if others methods run into difficulty. I love how old technology still can not be replaced with new technology!

1826, 1950, 1979 and 1997 were big flood years for Winnipeg and even recently in 2009 was an Ice Jam flood. Just because Winnipeg has yearly floods does not mean we are used to them; each flood year has a different character. So the city has to be diligent and careful and not assume anything about what the weather and the rivers will do.

The old saying that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure has actually been proven and measured. Randy told me that for each dollar spent in mitigation you save seven in the cost of responding. In other words, if one million dollars were NOT spent in an effort to prevent damage from earthquakes, or hurricanes or whatever a city might be hit by, then about seven million dollars would likely be spent cleaning up the mess afterwards, if such an event happened. Not a bad investment.

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Winnipeg’s Primary Dyke System

Winnipeggers often forget that besides the Floodway there is also a primary dyke system that was built in the 1960’s. Lyndale Drive, Scotia and Churchill Drive, Rover Ave and  Glenwood Crescent are all on top of dykes that protect the city.

Primary Dike
The primary dike system is typically defined as the closest road to the river.

After the 1950 flood all roads below 26.5 ft were built up to this elevation, many roads are above this minimum elevation.

is where springtime flood information can be found for Winnipeg.

The City of Winnipeg’s Sandbag making machine can make thousands of sandbags an hour



The Sandbagger


“Flood-fighting efforts ramped up in Fargo, N.D. Wednesday, with city officials announcing criminals sentenced to community service would have to help sandbag.

High school students get ready to make sandbags.High school students get ready to make sandbags. (Catherine Dulude/CBC)

The city’s sandbagging centre opened Wednesday morning and hundreds of volunteers began the task of making one million bags over the next 10 days.

Many of the volunteers are high school students bused in from around the city. Others, like Mike Benson, are there because they have faced the rising water before and know what it takes to fight back.

“You kind of know you can’t do it all yourself. You can’t work for like a week straight, man the pumps, man your sump pump, build the dike, take care of the dike. You need help and this is a way I can give back to the community,” said Benson, who was helped during the 1997 flood.

Those volunteers will be joined by criminals who have been sentenced to community service. City officials said in a release that anyone who is “capable of performing physical labour” is being ordered to participate in the city’s sandbagging operations.

Meanwhile, evening flood meetings are underway to show residents the city’s flood plan.

“Our property’s one of the ones very much at stake and in the game, so it’s very pertinent information for us to be here,” said Gene Redmond, who was at the first meeting on Tuesday night. The U.S. National Weather Service says there’s a 95 per cent chance there will be major flooding on the Red River in Fargo. As of Wednesday night, 94,000 sandbags had been produced at Fargo’s Sandbag Central location.”


The City of Winnipeg’s Sandbag stockpile. About 120 000 sandbags were made this year, 2013










City of Winnipeg East Side Operations


Pen stealing is prevented by attaching a heavy bit of metal








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