Manitoba government declares a state of emergency to fight flood

Ottawa is sending troops as rising Assiniboine threatens Portage east

A flooded farm in southern Manitoba in 2011.

The Manitoba government declared a provincial state of emergency at noon today to battle flooding along the Assiniboine River.

River levels east of Portage la Prairie are expected to be as high or higher than the historic 2011 flood.

This morning Premier Greg Selinger asked the federal government to send in Canadian Forces to help protect homes and shore up dikes threatened by the rising waters coming from eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba following heavy rains last weekend.

Flooding at Tantallon, Sask. on July 1, 2014.  Photo: Katherine Miller
Flooding at Tantallon, Sask. on July 1, 2014. Photo: Katherine Miller photo: Katherine MIller

Boots should be on the ground by tomorrow, Selinger told reporters this morning.

“These measures will allow our officials to take the necessary actions to protect the safety, health and welfare of Manitobans,” Selinger said.

The state of emergency affects the city of Portage la Prairie and the rural municipalities of Portage la Prairie, Cartier, St. François Xavier and Headingley.

The provincial government will assist municipalities and property owners who are advised to prepare for 2011 levels plus one foot.

“We need to prepare for significant and sustained flows down the Assiniboine River after the heavy rain storms last weekend and forecasted additional rainfall this weekend,” Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton said in a statement.

High water levels are expected within five to seven days and will remain high for at least three weeks before slowly receding.

River flows are expected to be between 48,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 52,000 cfs. The government is readying both the Portage Diversion channel and the lower Assiniboine River dikes to manage peak flows.

Five hundred thousand sandbags are being filled for the flood fight.

STARS helicopter ambulance will be used for medical emergencies in the flood zone and will resume inter-facility transfers today to support flood operations.

Municipalities have already started flood-fighting preparations, the Manitoba government said in a statement. Residents are advised to contact their municipality for assistance and information. Equipment and resources will focus critical infrastructure, communities and homes.

Watch for heavy equipment in flood areas and around dikes.

Considerable flood fighting is underway in Brandon. Recent flood protection projects in Brandon, including the 18th Street Bridge, are supporting this year’s response, the Manitoba government said.

A provincial state of emergency is in place to allow work on the Lake St. Martin Channel to Lake Winnipeg. Water is flowing as crews work to fully open the channel.

Last weekend western Manitoba and eastern Saskatchewan received three to eight inches of rain on already saturated soils causing widespread overland flooding that covered crops, washed out roads, stranded cattle and filled basements.

About the author

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Reporter

Allan Dawson is a reporter with the Manitoba Co-operator based near Miami, Man. Covering agriculture since 1980, Dawson has spent most of his career with the Co-operator except for several years with Farmers’ Independent Weekly and before that a Morden-Winkler area radio station.

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