Manitoba flood: Harper to tour flood zone Sunday
BRANDON, Man. – Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he’ll be on the ground in Manitoba Sunday, as the province prepares once again to combat devastating flood waters.
— Stephen Harper (@pmharper) July 6, 2014
As the city of Brandon deals with a rapidly rising Assiniboine River, soldiers are being mobilized to help protect property downstream, where provincial officials are considering cutting a dike to avoid flooding elsewhere.
Closer to Winnipeg, the province is surveying the Hoop and Holler Bend as it tries to decide whether it will be necessary to flood farms to avoid a more damaging breach of the dikes elsewhere.
WATCH: Controlled breach may be necessary. Tamara Forlanski reports
The Hoop and Holler dike will only be cut if officials fear there’s a high possibility of an uncontrolled breach, Premier Greg Selinger said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon.
“It will only be executed as a last resort if it is determined high flows pose a serious risk of an uncontrolled breach,” he said.
Soldiers arrived at Portage la Prairie, Man., just west of the Hoop and Holler, on Saturday morning to help sandbag.
There are 300 soldiers from Shilo and Portage la Prairie and reservists from Winnipeg helping to fight the flood , military spokesman Mike Lagace said Saturday. Some have already been deployed to Southport, just south of Portage la Prairie.
The soldiers aim to make 125,000 sandbags a day, and if more soldiers are needed, they will be called in, Lagace said.
Crews are also building up the Portage Diversion, which takes Assiniboine River water north to Lake Manitoba, to make sure the banks can withstand the increased flow of water.
In Brandon, the river jumped two feet overnight as city crews are making sure all flood dikes are prepared to handle the fast flow of water.
“We’re racing against the clock,” said Brandon Mayor, Shari Decter Hirst. “We don’t have the luxury of weeks. We have been trying to get this together in a matter of days.”
City officials say crews are working on one low spot in the dike and are building it up.
The river was expected to crest at a height of 1182.89 feet above sea level, which would leave around a foot and a half of space to the top of the dikes.
Late Friday the city issued 835 pre-evacuation notices to homes and another 76 businesses. In all 2,500 people were told to prepare for a possible evacuation. So far that hasn’t happened.
“At this time we have no intention of evacuating,” said Decter Hirst. “No one has been evacuated from Brandon.”
The mayor did go on to ask everyone in the city to think of where they would go in the event of an evacuation. She said plans and people are in place in the event evacuations need to happen.
Brandon police have also been busy with people trying to get close to the rushing water.
“There has not been any real calls for services related to the flood except for people going where they shouldn’t be,” said Staff Sgt. Larry Yanick.
He said people are swimming in the Assiniboine River as well as kayaking.
“Please stay away,” Yanick pleaded with residents.
VIDEO GALLERY: Manitoba Flood 2014
Brandon emergency officials are keeping an eye on the weather forecast and hoping sunny skies stick around.
“We continue to monitor the weather and we understand the increased likelihood of a summer storm tonight,” said Brian Kayes, the director of Emergency Coordination in Brandon.
He said there are 23 pumps ready to go in the event rain makes the situation worse.
Roads across southwestern Manitoba have been closed by the flooding. Check the Manitoba road report for more details.
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