Watch above: The Assiniboine river crested in Portage la Prairie, but it’s now flowing into St. François Xavier—a community hit hard by the 2011 floods. Vassy Kapelos reports.
WINNIPEG – Manitoba flood fighters are feeling optimistic as the crest passes Portage la Prairie and dikes hold along the Assiniboine River and the Portage Diversion.
“Water levels have declined at the Portage Diversion,” Manitoba water management head Steve Topping said Thursday at the Manitoba Legislature Building.
The floodwaters crested just west of Portage la Prairie at 52,100 cubic feet per second late Wednesday, the equivalent of 35.5 Olympic swimming pools flowing past every minute, Topping said. About one-third of the water, 18,000 cfs, is continuing down the Assiniboine River, while the rest is being sent up the Portage Diversion to Lake Manitoba.
“We’re feeling pretty good at this time,” Kam Blight, reeve of the rural municipality of Portage la Prairie, said Thursday morning. “As far as I can tell, everything is working as planned.”
People in Blight’s area have worked to reinforce both the diversion and the river dikes against floodwaters. The rural municipality issued an evacuation order for about 15 permanent residences and 150 cottages at Delta Beach, where the diversion empties into Lake Manitoba, out of fears the dikes could fail there.
“I think the Assiniboine River’s going to be running at this height for a good couple of weeks and hopefully we can start to see this diversion dropping down within the next week,” Blight said.
“Today’s going to be a lot of monitoring,” with the focus on Delta Beach, he added.
Down the Assiniboine in the rural municipality of Cartier, south of the river between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg, Robin Rogers is prepared for another flood like the one that damaged his property in 2011.
Rogers was warned the crest would be a foot higher than in spring 2011 because of the summer vegetation adding to the volume in the river valley. He didn’t have to add sandbags to the top of his dike in 2011, but this year the military and volunteers helped him add a couple of feet to the level.
Water is already filling the yard in front of his home, on the opposite side from the river.
The water stayed in his yard for three months in 2011, killing many of his trees and leaving his yard black.
“This is the first year we’ve actually had green grass,” he said, expressing hope that the predicted three-week duration of this flood won’t cause as much damage.
Rogers is grateful for the diversion despite the damage it causes to farmers whose fields are flooded by the overflow.
“Nobody would live on the river if the Portage Diversion wasn’t there,” he said. “The diversion is a nice luxury, but it’s also a necessity.”
— With files from Ashley Carter
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