Five Years after the Flood of the Century
Those who watched the Red River rise in 1997 will never forget the experience.
By late April, the Red River was a large, slow moving lake, washing away everything in its wide path. Southern Manitobans had watched with horror the coverage of the flood's destruction of Grand Forks, North Dakota. They knew the unstoppable force of this disaster, but they did not wait idly for it to arrive. Instead, Manitobans from all walks of life worked shoulder to shoulder to build sandbag dykes, while others struggled to save what they could from the encroaching river. Everyone who could pitched in to help.
It was a time of great despair, but also of enormous compassion and the triumph of the human spirit.
The Canadian Red Cross is very proud of the lead role it played in the flood response. We registered 25,000 Manitobans whose communities were threatened by floodwaters. Some had no idea what they would return home to, others would lose their homes altogether.
Donations literally flooded in from across the country and around the world. Special events raised even more money. In total, over $25 million was collected for the Red River flood response. And the Canadian Red Cross spent ALL of that money meeting the needs in southern Manitoba. (This is verified by an independent audit conducted on this fund in August, 1999 by KPMG.)
Donations were issued directly to more than 22,000 Manitobans through assistance programs. Those disbursements covered the cost of rebuilding, as well as income replacement and flood-proofing initiatives.
The Red Cross also funded the work of a psycho-social trauma team and supported other community organizations working to assist flood victims. Long after the floodwaters receded, a legion of trained Red Cross volunteers and staff were traveling throughout the flood-affected area, assessing needs and providing assistance.
Assistance from the Flood Fund continued to be distributed to Manitobans in need until June, 2000.
Following the response, the Manitoba provincial government provided more than $1.63 million to offset some of the costs Red Cross incurred during its flood response. Rather than retain those funds, the Canadian Red Cross is directing those funds to the Canadian Disaster Relief Fund (CDRF). The CDRF was created to ensure that in times of disaster anywhere in the country, the Canadian Red Cross would be able to mobilize help quickly, before donations begin to arrive.
Five years later, the Red Cross is immensely proud of its role in helping those in need, and we are extremely grateful to the tens of thousands of Canadians who supported the relief effort during the Flood of the Century.
1997 Manitoba Flood FAST FACTS
Number of evacuees registered: 25,000
Amount of money donated: $25.543 million
Amount spent on disaster relief: $25.546 million
Number of beneficiaries: 22,000
Number of Red Cross volunteers who helped: 2,200