Last Thursday, April 18, what one Twin Lakes Beach resident near St. Laurent described as a tsunami of ice took only three minutes to slam up against boathouses, waterfront decks, and launches and even through a cottage in one case. 

Mavine Smet lives in Twin Beaches near St. Laurent, whose waterfront decking was pummelled by a wall of ice. Twin Lakes Beach is located on the east side of Lake Manitoba.

"Every year, the lake breaks up. We're used to that. We know that the breakup usually happens in May. This is really early for this time of year and based on the wind direction, we've been very fortunate so far all these years that the build-up has not happened at this end of the wake. We usually experience northwest wind that will take the ice down the lake. This year, the winds weren't in our favour and we had a west wind. We've experienced a pile-up. I have to say this is the first time since my family and I have been on this property that this has happened. If this is it, and this is as far as it's going, We can deal with this."

She explains that this sort of thing has been known to occur more around the Delta area toward the south end of the lake. Smet says the northwest winds cause the ice to build up on shore. She points to a piece of land jutting out toward the north and protecting their area most of the time.

Smet adds it's also early for any ice breakup to occur, and that can be seen with the thickness of the ice being quite substantial. 

The Smets have a video camera at the back of their home and caught the ordeal on camera. 

"This started at 12:47 p.m. It took exactly three minutes for this ice to come up over. We weren't here. We were in the city, and we started getting phone calls saying that the ice was on the move. We hadn't expected it. We weren't even thinking about it because it's so early in the season for this. Our security cameras caught it. Nobody was hurt. There was damage to two boathouses and a cottage about six cottages down. It went right through my neighbour's boathouse. The cottage next door, is a vacant cottage and an old cottage, but still it went right through the front windows."

R.M. of St. Laurent Reeve Rick Chartrand notes the council heard about it the same day it transpired.

"We have one of our councillors that lives on Twin Beach Road, as well. He was driving, contacted me, and informed me that this was happening and that he was talking to some of the cottage owners here. I contacted our emergency coordinator. He was in Winnipeg, but he was coming back that same day. And he also said he was going to do an assessment of it and aside from that, unfortunately, there's not much that the municipality can do. It's Mother Nature at work, and as long as people aren't injured, we express our sympathies with them, but we can't do anything more."

He notes they looked in Disaster Financial Assistance, and this does not fall under the opportunity to declare a state of local emergency. He adds that not even the homeowners can apply for insurance. 

Chartrand says this fell only a week after they had a marsh fire.

"We had a huge marsh fire right across the road from us and it involved our fire department to respond. Woodlands Fire Department also responded, and the wind was coming from the south. It was blowing in toward town and it was coming closer to the cottage people. But our fire department, with the assistance of Woodlands, were able to monitor it. And once they were able to get close enough, they attacked it and they were able to put it out." 

He says the ice situation isn't over yet. 

"The provincial and federal governments have indicated climate change and they do see longer springs and falls, and more drought. And we just have to be ready for it. In regards to the ice, everybody is pretty well aware of it and it's not over yet. It's just the luck of the wind where it blows. It could end up impacting other people. Last year, we had ratepayers that were approximately three  kilometres north of us from this location and the ice came right up to their decks, as well. So, you never know where it's going to head. And depending on the wind, if the wind changes toward the east, all this will the lake will open up. If the wind changes back to the west, the ice will come back in within a few days."