Manitoba braces for record flood levels

Soldiers from CFB Shilo arrived on July 4 to make sand bags in the Portage la Prairie yard on July...

Soldiers from CFB Shilo arrived on July 4 to make sand bags in the Portage la Prairie yard on July 5. About 200 homes from Portage to Headingly were designated to receive flood protection. (Svjetlana Mlinarevic/The Graphic/QMI Agency)

Svjetlana Mlinarevic, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:01 PM ET

WINNIPEG -- Nine farmers had their land flooded again as the province works to alleviate rising water levels by making a deliberate breach in the Portage Diversion wall.

On Wednesday, the flood's crest passed through Portage la Prairie, Man., flooding only the farmers in the line of the deliberate cut.

Now the province is turning its focus to projected crests to the east coming Thursday night -- and a second crest, expected to hit Brandon, Man., around July 17, that could be higher than the first.

"We're not looking at a second crest that would be anything approaching what we're seeing right now -- once you're east of the Souris," Steve Topping of Manitoba Water Stewardship said.

Assessing that is slightly more difficult because three gauges were lost in the flood waters, including an integral one in Saskatchewan.

"The issue here is whether there will be a higher crest than was initially expected," Emergency Measures Organization Minister Steve Ashton said. "The second question is whether it will be at or close to the level seen in 2011."

Either way, Ashton said the province has prepared as much as is possible and has emergency-response teams at the ready.

"We have been preparing and we are prepared, but we're not taking anything for granted over the next period of time," Ashton said.

One of the affected farmers, Kevin Yuill, has lost 200 acres of canola so far, despite trying to build a dike.

"We have more going under as we speak," he said Wednesday afternoon.

Yuill estimates he might lose close to $500,000 by the time the flood is over.

"I got flooded in 2011 and it was an insult what we got out of them," he said. "Them cutting a hole in the side of the bank, they should be 100% liable for whatever the losses are. There are nine of us that are really getting hurt out here."

Farmer Mark Peters says he expects to lose more than $500,000 from the 2011 and 2014 floods.

"We live 12 miles away from the Assiniboine River. We did not build on a floodplain. This farm was here before the Diversion was built. The province brought the Diversion to us. If you're going to do this to people you better look after them and they are not."

Farmer Shaun Moran lost close to 400 acres of canola, 1,400 less than in 2011. Prior to 2011, the field only flooded once back in the mid-1950s.

"I thought, if it didn't flood for 50 more years I should be OK, but I didn't expect it to happen again three years later," he said.

All three farmers said the province needs to deepen the Diversion -- and build an outflow in the north end of Lake Manitoba to handle the water.

"They're just reacting and not being proactive," Peters said. "They completely missed the boat on the upkeep of this Diversion. It doesn't flow like it's supposed to, there's a lot of silt built up, there's a lot of growth with weeds and trees that should not be in there. That's what's hindering the flow.

“They need to drain the lake and get working on the channel today. Not in five years, six years, or 10 years. Today."


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