I remember that here in Winnipeg, it was late on a beautiful Spring afternoon. Sunny, warm and calm, just as most of the following weeks would be.
I was on my way to The Fort Garry Hotel to emcee and awards event, and news was just starting to trickle in as I arrived that Grand Forks had begun to lose it’s battle against the rising floodwaters coursing down the Red toward Lake Winnipeg.
Here in Winnipeg, I think most of us had been lulled into complacency about the potential for flooding here – even after the monstrous blizzard just a couple of weeks prior – by “Duff’s Ditch”…the Red River Floodway.
It was built to handle another flood of the magnitude of the one in 1950 that had moved would-be premier to push for the Floodway in the first place.
After the dinner event ended at about 9pm, I was on my way home, and the trickle of news from Grand Forks had become a flood. I remember getting home and flipping on CNN to see the video of a city just down the road, drowning in floodwaters…and burning. It was a hellish vision that I couldn’t believe I was seeing.
Like so many of you, that was the “uh-oh”-moment that we were in for a rough ride here in Winnipeg, too.
Just a few days later, I began 19 straight nights anchoring the city hall coverage of our battle for what is now Shaw TV.
You can relive that moment from 20 years ago HERE (including archived news reports from Grand Forks and the timeline of how the city fell).