Dikes holding up in Manitoba flooding

A pair of canoeists paddle through high water on the Assiniboine River near the Forks in Winnipeg...

A pair of canoeists paddle through high water on the Assiniboine River near the Forks in Winnipeg on July 06, 2014. (Brian Donogh/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 4:37 PM ET

WINNIPEG — The crest of the Assiniboine River has worked its way through most Manitoba communities in its path and so far the dikes have held back the flood waters.

Despite threats of a thunderstorm, the water levels are lower than expected — now well below the levels seen in 2011 that caused nightmare flooding in the province — and the worst appears to be over.

"That is welcome news," Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton said Thursday.

He thanked the 1,000 volunteers who helped sandbag threatened areas and otherwise shore up in the fight against the rising river.

He also thanked the 500 members of the Canadian Forces who pitched in, and who may begin to head home to their bases as early as tonight.

"They were there for us," Ashton said.

"What was really noticeable was in four days there were 310,000 sandbags, numerous tiger dams … in four days we went from a scenario where we saw the water coming through the Assiniboine, and then it happened. And we were in a position when the surge came that we were as prepared as physically possible.”

Flood officials are now turning their attention to a second crest.

While still below record levels, forecasters say the second crest could be much higher than the first.

Flood forecaster Steve Topping said he was certain the dikes would be able to handle the flow.

Meanwhile, military-grade Aurora aircraft will continue monitoring the dikes.

On Thursday night one plane was able to detect a small amount of seepage between Portage la Prairie and Baie St. Paul.

"It detects leaks that aren't critical and stops them before they become critical," Ashton said.

A last hurdle could still be cutting the Hoop and Holler bend — which would overflow into the area to save communities downstream.

Those areas have been evacuated just in case.

The province said it will notify residents immediately to allow them to return home if the dikes don't need to be breached.

"We'll tell residents as soon as it's decided," Ashton said.

On Thursday, nine farmers had their land flooded again when the province breached the Portage Diversion wall.

One other concern is the rising of lake levels, that are expected to increase over the next few weeks.

Lake Manitoba is expected to remain at flood levels for much of the summer.


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