July 9, 2014 1:15 pm
Updated: July 9, 2014 1:30 pm

Manitoba communities wait for flood crest to hit


WINNIPEG – The water is rising at Portage la Prairie, Man., as officials and residents wait for the Assiniboine River flood crest forecast to hit Wednesday.

“Today looks like the day we hit the max,” Premier Greg Selinger said to media Wednesday morning in Spillway Park near the Portage Diversion control structure. “So far the dikes are pretty solid.”

Premier Greg Selinger speaks to the media at Spillway Park near the Portage Diversion control structure on Wednesday.

Rudi Pawlychyn / Global News

The flow at the Portage Diversion, just west of Portage la Prairie, was at 51,300 cubic feet per second Wednesday morning, Selinger said, with the crest now expected to be 51,600 cfs at around 6 p.m. Approximately 18,000 cfs will carry on downstream toward Winnipeg, while about 34,000 cfs will be sent up the diversion to Lake Manitoba.

“We have been preparing and we are prepared, but we’re not taking anything for granted,” Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton said at a noon news conference at the Manitoba Legislative Assembly.

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“The critical work is done,” deputy minister Doug McNeil added.

The crest had been predicted to hit at noon Wednesday, with forecasts over the past few days ranging from 50,000 to 54,000 cfs.

RELATED: Manitoba flood damage already mounting

It’s now unlikely a cut will be made in the dike at Hoop and Holler Bend, just west of Portage la Prairie, but it’s still ready in case an intentional breach is needed, the flood update said.

Earlier in the day, Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie Reeve Kam Blight said they’re now just waiting to see what happens.

“We’re just going to be hoping for the best and waiting for the final peak to come,” Blight said. “It’ll take some time for the numbers to ramp up to their full potential, but we’ll be watching things very closely.”

Officials have been reinforcing and raising dikes along both the diversion and the river. Homes and cottages at Delta Beach at the mouth of Lake Manitoba have been evacuated as a precaution, as officials fear a breach of the diversion at that point is possible.

“There’s a lot of vegetation and growth, especially at the north end, close to the entrance into Lake Manitoba, which is causing the flows to slow somewhat,” Blight said.”It’s causing the water to back up slightly. …

“In July, when there’s so much growth and so much vegetation out there, is a total new ballgame for us,” he added, referring to the fact that flooding usually happens in the area in spring.

Soldiers from 17 Wing in Winnipeg sandbag in St. Francois Xavier, Man., Tuesday.

John Woods / The Canadian Press

An amazing amount of work has been done, he said.

“I’m very concerned about the stress and the toll that it takes on all of our residents and our municipality,” he said. “Everyone’s doing an amazing job. … We’re going to get through this with them and then we can move on and start going back to our normal lives.”

RELATED: 5 of the worst floods in Canadian history


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