Manitoba community using drone technology to prepare for spring flooding

With the spring thaw in full effect, now is the time for flood prone communities to start preparing.

The RM of St. Andrews will be getting early warning of trouble this season as they’re using drone technology to get an advance look at developing problems.

One of the residents who will benefit from this technology is Mac Pulling, who was forced to evacuate after his street got a torrent of water back in 2015.

“I was sitting on my front deck and I watched it, the water going over,” he said. “And I said, ‘Oh, it’s time to go to town.’”

Pulling knew there was a good chance of flooding that year, but he didn’t know exactly when to expect it.

In the annual flood fight, officials say this is pretty common.

“In the last decade we wouldn’t be able to react till we were actually in a situation where we had an ice jam, and water was beginning to back up. So we were very reactive,” said Brent Olynyk, CAO of the RM of St. Andrews.

Today the RM is able to get an early warning thanks to drone technology.

Earlier this week, the RM conducted its first drone flight of the season to capture aerial footage of the ice conditions along the Red River. The idea is to monitor for any potential risk of ice jamming and watch how and where the ice is moving each day.

“[We are] able to warn ourselves and say get ready in the next 12 or 15 hours, we could be experiencing a problem,” Olynyk said.

Mayor Joy Sul said having 15 hours notice instead of 15 minutes is a huge advantage for people in the community.

“Residents can go on the website and see exactly what’s happening at that at that moment, how the water is moving, where the water is breaking up and if there is going to be a jam, where it’s going to be,” Sul said.

Pulling said he appreciates the early warning after years of sudden surprises.

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