Manitoba declares state of emergency over flooding, calls in the military

Manitoba declares a state of emergency over flood waters, calls in military. PAUL TURENNE/QMI Agency

Manitoba declares a state of emergency over flood waters, calls in military. PAUL TURENNE/QMI Agency

Dean Pritchard, QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 11:00 PM ET

WINNIPEG ─ Just hours after declaring a state of emergency, the province announced it will prepare for a controlled breach to ease fast-rising water levels along the Assiniboine River, just as it did in 2011.

"The flood forecast has worsened," Premier Greg Selinger said early Friday evening. "We are now looking at a higher crest, and the water is moving more quickly than anticipated."

Flood forecasters are now predicting the Assiniboine River will crest Saturday in Brandon, Man., just slightly below 2011 levels and June 8 or 9 in Portage La Prairie, higher than record levels in 2011.

Crews will begin work on the potential breach at Hoop and Holler Bend Saturday morning with a target of opening it Monday or Tuesday.

"This is what we now consider to be the threshold for preparing the Hoop and Holler cut for a prepared breach so that we don't have uncontrolled breaches in the system," said Dave McMahon, assistant deputy minister of water management and structures.

The danger of not opening the breach is losing control of what damage the water will cause, Selinger said.

"It's all about minimizing and controlling where the water will go," he said.

Hours earlier, Selinger announced the province would be securing military aid to protect up to 200 endangered homes east of Portage. The province will now be counting on soldiers to help protect up to 150 homes near Hoop and Holler as well.

A state of emergency allows the government to take action to protect the safety of residents and prevent damage to property and the environment.

The state of emergency affects the city and rural municipality of Portage la Prairie, Cartier, St. Francois Xavier and Headingley, where residents have been advised to prepare for flood levels one foot higher than 2011.

The military will also be enlisted to repair any "hotspots" that appear on area dikes.

"Some of these dikes are very difficult to access and as we know from 2011, the military has specialized forms of equipment that we can use to get into hard-to-access sites," Selinger said.

The province has two million sandbags in stock and is producing another 500,000 to reinforce the Assiniboine dikes.

Elsewhere, wind vents remain a danger, particularly on Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg, as does any additional rain.

Authorities in Saskatchewan, which has also seen extensive flooding, said they aren’t declaring a state of emergency yet and the situation is stable.

“Our particular situation is quite a bit different than Manitoba’s,” Duane McKay, commissioner of emergency management, told a press conference Friday, noting much of Saskatchewan’s water runs into Manitoba. “We will call for assistance from the federal government when we’ve expended our capacity.”

Saskatchewan’s water security spokesman Patrick Boyle said Crooked Lake won’t surpass record levels set in 2011, but Round Lake will, and is expected to peak Sunday or Monday.

Boyle noted much of the province saw 150-200% above normal precipitation levels in June. This was before a two-day rainfall started June 28 that caused the most recent flooding.

Premier Brad Wall toured some of the hardest hit areas on Wednesday and said the damage will cost more than the $360 million spent on flood recovery in the province in 2011.

dean.pritchard@sunmedia.ca

Twitter: @deanatwpgsun


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