Manitoba premier declares emergency, calls in military to fight flood
WATCH: Parts of Manitoba are bracing for a surge of floodwater from Saskatchewan. The premier has asked the military to help prepare for the worst. Lauren McNabb reports.
WINNIPEG -Premier Greg Selinger has declared a provincial emergency and asked for military help as parts of Manitoba deal with a flood that could topple records set by the 2011 flood.
In a press conference Friday evening, the premier said there will be a controlled breach at the Hoop and Holler bend on Monday or Tuesday. Equipment will be brought in as early as Saturday morning.
The controlled breach is to prevent an uncontrolled breach that could impact thousands.
“I talked to the prime minister yesterday,” the Manitoba premier said at a news conference on Friday morning.
The City of Brandon will deliver pre-evacuation notices Friday evening to areas north and south of the river.
“They are projecting a quick peak by tomorrow at noon,” Brandon officials said in a news release Friday evening. “We should see the water recede slightly for a couple of days, peak again, and then remain for a couple of weeks. This is a new type of flood and therefore very difficult to predict.”
Manitoba is fighting an “unprecedented” summer flood following torrential rains at the end of June, said Steve Topping, head of the province’s water management branch.
“As we speak, we’re assembling all the resources that will be required” to fight the flood, Topping said at a morning news conference in Winnipeg.
People living along the Assiniboine River just west of Winnipeg have been told the river could swell half a metre above where it was three years ago.
The military is needed to protect homes along the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg with sandbag dikes and to be available to deal with potential breaches of dikes in the area, Selinger said.
Army reservists were called in to fight the 2011 flood, one of Manitoba’s worst; they helped shore up weakened dikes and sandbag homes along the river.
Robert Poirier of St. François Xavier municipality west of Winnipeg said people who live along the river were told after that disaster to put in permanent flood protection, but he doesn’t know how many people took that advice.
Unlike 2011, Poirier said they haven’t been sandbagging for months and aren’t prepared for a flood fight this late in the year.
— With files from The Canadian Press
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