Daily Archives: May 10, 2011

Brandon Flood Update – Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Reid Dickie

        Brandon city flood officials and Mayor Shari Decter Hirst held their usual 4 p.m. flood briefing, the room still jammed with national media as interest and severity grows. Overall the river level hasn’t risen today but is not expected to remain stable. Crews are still re-enforcing dikes along the south side of the river near the evacuated area. No evacuation of the north side of the river at this time. It was affirmed this is the highest water level of the Assiniboine River “since Brandon existed.” The hazardous goods bypass, Route 110, has been closed with water over the highway. Re-diking is planned and the road may open on Wednesday, but don’t count on it. Meanwhile everybody coming in from the north enters Brandon via Kemnay, west of the city.

Officials confirmed there is at least a foot of freeboard around the diking system. Today was a windy, rainy, grey day in Brandon, the waves lapped high and hard against the dikes. It was a test. The mayor supplied four good news aspects to the situation including a conversation she had with an eight-year-old girl who was going to university. Students from Kirkcaldy School, located in the valley, start classes at Brandon University tomorrow since their school is in the flood risk zone. The university is supplying classroom space for the K to 8 students. The girl was very excited about the new experience. The mayor stressed what a relief it must be for the parents and what a great example of the community pulling together when under common distress. She also commended the volunteers for their continuing efforts.

Two stores remain open in Corral Centre, hardware and groceries. The Assiniboine is expected to crest within the next 48 hours. The best Brandon can do tonight is hope for no wind to stress the dikes further and to pray the rain stops though forecasts predict rain and/or showers until Saturday.

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Flood Pictures #1 May 10, 2011

      This is an aerial view looking east down the Assiniboine Valley at Brandon. The river is flowing away from you. In the foreground the double row of spruce trees is the flooded entrance to the Brandon Experimental Farm. Perpendicular to that, water covers Grand Valley Road. Beyond that the row of spruce trees and white dikes indicate 18th Street, still open with one lane in each direction. Traffic in Brandon is tangled, to say the least. On the left of the picture, past the spruce trees is Corral Centre, the big mall that is now closed, and past that two residential areas. Right centre is the 18th Street bridge, the only outlet for the river. On the right side of the picture and off into the distance, the Assiniboine is creating its floodplain.

      This is a picture of Grand Valley with the Assiniboine flowing left to right. The Trans Canada Highway crosses the river here, about 15 kms west of Brandon. Today there is mounting concern that when the crest arrives, within the next 2 days, the TCH will be impassable.

My next report later this evening.

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Manitoba Flood Update – Tuesday

Reid Dickie

The Assiniboine River still continues to threaten communities along its path although the water level at Brandon was unchanged overnight. Showers and rain coming in from Saskatchewan will give the Assiniboine River basin over 20 mm of water by the weekend, adding to the unpredictability of the river.

At this morning’s media briefing by Brandon flood offficials there were twice as many media people as there were yesterday, denoting the flood’s increasing significance. The briefing confirmed that earth-moving diking will be done by this evening and exisiting dikes will be topped with aqua dams. Evacuations in Brandon stand at about 1000 people. No further evacuations are planned for today. Hazardous materials, such as gasoline at filling stations, in the risk zone have been secured or moved. Brandon awaits its fate.

       Despite the fact that the Portage Diversion, which diverts riverwater north into Lake Manitoba, has been running slightly over capacity, the city of Portage la Prairie, east of Brandon, is still under duress due to potential river flooding. Rather than risk uncontrolled breaches of dikes, the Manitoba government is planning a “controlled” breach that would flood an area east of Portage effecting about 150 homes. Evacuation orders are in place for the area with the “controlled” release expected on Wednesday. Although the declared provincial state of emergency allows this action, I caution those making this decision by reminding them of these words from poet Gary Snyder, “It is not nature-as-chaos which threatens us but the State’s presumption that it has created order.” 

      Word of the day: freeboard meaning “the distance between normal water level and the top of a structure, such as a dam, that impounds or restrains water.”

        Manitoba Water Stewardship publishes a daily flood bulletin. Here is today’s. The next briefing from Brandon officials is at 4 this afternoon. More from me thereafter. My heart goes out to those living in Brandon, Portage and the surrounding area. Stress and uncertainty must be overwhelming for many. Know you are in our hearts and prayers. Be brave, be strong.

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Brandon Businesses Closed by Flooding – List

       A list of business closed in the risk zone has been released. These businesses have not been flooded but are closed as a precaution. The list may not be complete. If you are wondering about a business not on the list, call them for confirmation.

The following Corral Centre businesses are closed:
-Western Financial Group (relocated to the Thomas Mall Location)
-Wheat City Medical Clinic – contact the Superstore location
-MTS Connect . Services at 1535 Pacific Avenue. 571-4090.
-Westoba Credit Union – phone & Online services unaffected.
-Future Shop : repairs and online services at 2050 Currie Blvd
-Winburn Orthodontics – patients scheduled up to May 13th will be contacted
– Ultracuts
-Ashley Furniture
– Liquor Store
– Winners
– Subway
– Northside Mazda
– The North 40
– Lady of the Lake / stream n’ wood
– Kowasaki
– Old Dutch
– Memories Chapel. Moved to 547 8th st. 727-0330
-Butler Byers Insurance
-Green Spot
-Giant Car & Truck Wash
-Sobey’s Cash & Carry (wholesalers)
-Heritage Co-op gas bar 18th street North
-Twisters Ice Cream
-Patches Restaurant
-The Fuzzy Bears Daycare re-located to Grand Valley Community Church.
-Precision Toyota . temporary location on Leon’s furniture parking lot
-Trails West Motor Inn
-Rana Medical
-Redwood Motor Inn
-Mohawk on 18th
-Party Professionals. 573-8942
-CAA Manitoba. For info & road side assistance: 1-800-222-4357
-Straight Up Salon. Relocated to Advanced Hair School
-Heartland Livestock
-Brandon Radiator (calls will be forwarded)
-Morningstar Metals
-Edward Jones
– Best West Pet Foods
– Pet Value
– NRG Signs. Virden Office open
-Planet Kia. re-located to shopper mall

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Assiniboine Valley Closed for Business

Reid Dickie   


        Access to Brandon remains limited from the north with First Street still closed at the top of the North Hill. The fast moving water of the Assiniboine River is lifting and warping the asphalt on First Street from below. Dikes along the strip are under constant surveillance this morning with re-enforcement continuing.

         To the west on 18th Street, traffic is limited to one lane in each direction. Dikes there appear to be holding but re-enforcement continues. The Kia, Toyota and Mazda dealerships have all deserted the lowlands, moving their vehicles to higher ground wherever they could find it. Motels, service stations, restaurants, convenience stores – every business along 18th Street in the valley is closed, shuttered and waiting. Almost 40 stores in Corral Centre, the entire mall, have shut down. Some have started moving merchandise.

Brandon’s spiffy new firehall is near the river but sits at some elevation, hopefully enough. In case the city is split in two and separated by raging water, some fire trucks and equipment have been moved to the north side of the river. 

       Over 1000 people have been evacuated from The Flats with more evacuation notices likely to come today.

       All the while, uncaring about commerce or insouciance and bringing us the double-edged gift of worry and insignificance, the mighty Assiniboine surges on, stretching its watery fingers across the land, caressing wherever it wants, relentless in its quest for the bay.

       The river is expected to crest in Brandon this week, no one seems certain when but likely within the next 60 hours. Good luck Brandon.

    Next report coming late Tuesday morning.

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Manitoba Herps Atlas

       Reptiles and amphibians are collectively known as herpetofauna or just “herps.” There are 24 species of reptiles and amphibians in Manitoba and you can find them all described, illustrated and located on the Manitoba Herps Atlas. The Atlas, part of the NatureNorth.com site, is the work of  Doug Collicutt, a local biologist. The site contains information on frogs, treefrogs, toads, salamanders, turtles, snakes and a lizard (yes, Manitoba has a lizard!).  Fascinating and informative!

    Manitoba’s lizard is the Northern Prairie Skink and is mainly found in the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Park and the Lauder Sandhills. If under attack and grabbed by the tail, the skink will release the end section of its tail as a distraction so it can escape. The piece of skink tail wriggles wildly adding to the distraction. Watch it happen here. 

Click the pic of the Western Painted Turtle to find the Atlas.


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