The flood crest is approaching Brandon and residents in the valley north of the Assiniboine are listening for the emergency warning sirens. Evacuation routes have been announced in the event of a breach and, depending on the location and nature of the breach, north side residents will have minutes to evacuate the area. Not a comfortable place to be with river levels rising, the crest imminent within a couple of days and nervous public officials. So far, the Brandon dikes are holding, their condition described as “good but guarded.” Dike monitoring and maintenance goes on 24/7.
Tonight Brandon feels the greatest uncertainty yet in its “high water event.” Waiting and wondering, listening for the ominous howl of the emergency sirens as they echo across the wide valley. Palpable and real, there is fear in this prairie city tonight.
Downstream, Selinger Lake continues to fill. The fill rate appears to still be under control. The Hoop and Holler Bend, where the intentional breach was made, has an interesting history. Geographical Names of Manitoba says it was named for the “wild parties” held there. At one time back in pioneer days, a school sat near the site. It had an accompanying barn for the ponies and horses of students. The school was closed and moved but the barn remained and was used for barn dances and such. Often fights broke out between drunks at these dances and the neighbours could hear them “whooping and hollering,” thus the name. The barn was torn down or burned in the 1950s.
The weather is cooperating – sunny and dry for the entire region most of the week. So far, so good. A nervous night in Manitoba tonight. Be brave. Stay strong.