Manitoba officials say flood risk being monitored ‘hour-by-hour’

Water from the Assiniboine River rushes through the Portage Diversion in Portage la Prairie,...

Water from the Assiniboine River rushes through the Portage Diversion in Portage la Prairie, Manitoba, on July 4, 2014. The structure reroutes a portion of the river's water to Lake Manitoba. (Kevin King/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:12 PM ET

WINNIPEG - Dikes at Hoop and Holler bend will only be cut as a last resort, the province says.

A controlled release, which would direct water into several hundred square kilometres of land to protect homes, was also used in the 2011 flood and flood officials said Saturday it could be used again depending on the capacity of the Portage Diversion and Assiniboine River dikes east of Portage la Prairie.

But they emphasized that it will only take place if absolutely needed.

“This is going to be an hour-by-hour, day-by-day review of what the situation is,” said Doug McMahon, assistant deputy minister with Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation (MIT).

“If any issues arise there that put communities at risk of an uncontrolled event ... than the Hoop and Holler becomes a better option because you can still control it and it will never act as the first line of defence, but always as a backup,” added Premier Greg Selinger, who declared a state of emergency on Friday.

The plan has upset residents.

“Selinger is an a------ and an idiot,” said one resident, whose home is located about 100 metres from the dam and was flooded during the 2011 breach.

“If they want to keep flooding my land, I want them to buy it from me.”

Work began Saturday morning to prepare the area where the release may be made. Approximately 150 homes in the potential inundation zone are being protected.

The Canadian Armed Forces arrived on Saturday and most of them were first deployed to the Regional Municipality of Portage yard, where thousands of sandbags were being made. Four hundred troops were expected to arrive in the Portage area and not only help with sandbags, but with hot spots near the dikes.

The Assiniboine River at the Portage Reservoir is forecast to peak at 51,000 to 52,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on Tuesday or Wednesday, assuming ideal weather. That’s slightly below the record high set in 2011.

In Brandon, meanwhile, the Assiniboine River was expected to peak at 34-35,000 cfs Saturday -- very near 2011’s peak -- at midnight. A second crest of approximately 31,000 cfs is also expected on the Assiniboine River in Brandon around July 17.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is set to tour flood-affected areas on Sunday.

In Saskatchewan, Premier Brad Wall told reporters that during a call with Prime Minister Stephen Harper, he requested $100 million from the federal government in advance relief. A similar deal was made after the 2011 flooding.

“I’m pretty optimistic we’ll see some support there,” Wall said.

The province’s Water Security Agency says lake levels in the Qu’Appelle system continue to cause concern. In many areas, however, the rate of water levels rising has slowed down.

On Friday, Duane McKay, commissioner of emergency management for the province, said the situation there is stable and he did not expect officers will declare a state of emergency.

Funnel clouds spotted near Winnipeg Saturday

A pair of funnel clouds spotted near the Winnipeg on Saturday prompted tornado warnings from Environment Canada but dissipated without touching down.

Environment Canada meteorologist Mike McDonald said the funnel clouds southwest of Winnipeg near Oak Bluff and south of the city near Ste. Agathe lacked the wind shear to develop into a tornado.

On Friday, Duane McKay, commissioner of emergency management for the province, said the situation there is stable and he did not expect officers will declare a state of emergency.

- with files from Svjetlana Mlinarevic

 


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