The Town of Altona has closed its Emergency Operations Centre now that the threat from flood waters has passed. Public works crews have also dismantled the Tiger Dam that was set up along 9th St. NW last week.

By and large, Mayor Al Friesen says Town officials and crews are happy with their response to the rain and water events of the past two weekend.

"There was more of a scramble the first weekend. We also had more rain, over three inches, which kind of overwhelmed our system but by the second weekend, our crew was much more experienced. We had more in place in terms of Tiger Dams and the accessibility of sandbags. I think our staff new what to expect and they were ready for it. I think we were ready the first time too, but the rain was quite a bit. There may have been anxious moments but by and large, the town wasn't threatened the same way as some of our neighbours are."

In a week or two, local emergency response officials will meet to further review the Town's response, and Friesen says they have been charged with bringing ideas of where they can learn for the future. That includes building a proper inventory of the equipment and resources needed in order to respond to these scenarios.

"For example, we were able to borrow some significant pumps from Derksen Trucking. I think there was one thing that we thought we should have an inventory of where we can access some of those pumps that we don't necessarily need to have as part of our machinery or assets for the Town of Altona but rather, where are they? It was great that we were able to access them now, but if they were using them elsewhere then we would have had to scramble," explained Friesen. "We deployed fire engine pumper to move significant amount of water, and that's all great, but if there would have been a fire in the community and this would need to have been deployed somewhere else, what would we have done then?"

As well, Friesen says the Town had a good response from the Manitoba Government in terms of accessing some of its resources as well.

He feels the Town also made a deliberate effort to communicate with residents during both situations. That includes sending out updates over the Altona Connect program, sharing information via social media and the local media.

"We still had some people asking questions, so that shows there's an opportunity now to look back and say, 'did you miss it? Did you not know about some of the things we initiated? Well, here's how we can let you know," added Friesen, noting this was a chance for the Town to expand its reach through its Connect program.

Updates shared over the two weekends stressed the need for residents to re-route their sump pumps to drain onto their yard or to the street in order to prevent the local sewer system from becoming overwhelmed. As the Town rolls out its new water meter program, Friesen says it will be a opportunity to also engage residents on this issue.

"I think this will be the start of a conversation of how sump pumps should be installed, and how can we do this better in the future so that our community is not at risk for safety when we get these high water or high rain events," he said. "It can be an issue and it could happen in the middle of summer. This is something of our own making here in our community."

Friesen was asked if residents did indeed respond to the Town's request.

"I think anecdotally, walking around or diving around and checking with our staff, we know there's a lot more hoses on the front lawn, which is where we asked them to be, or on the driveway. So, people did hear us."

Meantime, the deluge of rain, especially on that first weekend, certainly put the town's new $2.4 million downtown drainage project to the test. Friesen reports, according to Public Works Manager Clint Derksen, the upgrade performed well.

"Initially with the three inches of rain, it overwhelmed our system and the water came up but it was pumped away just as quickly. So that's positive," he said. "In this particular instance, the system hadn't been fully tested or commissioned so there may be some efficiencies that we can address yet, and the fact that there may have still be ice in the system that could have slowed the water down. But, by and large, when checking with our team, we're real happy with the way it responded."

The Public Works team continues to monitor water levels and drainage in and around the community, but will now shift to cleaning up from the preventative flood measures and return to some of their regular spring duties.

"Residents will say, 'you guys did a great job during those high water events, now how about those potholes?' and we would say the same," said Friesen. "Work that we would do (like) street sweeping, the town clean up, all of that's sort of been delayed due to the late spring now the high water ever as well. And yet, as a staff they've been working three or four weekends in row, twelve hour shifts so, they are catching their breath."

Friesen assured residents that the work will get gone.