Brandon mayor Shari Decter Hirst emphasized at the morning media briefing that Brandon is in for the long haul now. “This is our new normal for the next little while,” she said. “We have to live with this.”
The Assiniboine hasn’t crested yet. Brandon is in for weeks of high water levels requiring patience and forbearance. This morning new precautionary measures were announced. The Corral Centre and adjacent Paddock shopping centres are now under mandatory evacuation. The few stores still open are closing today. Traffic and speed limits on 18th Street are being restricted due to concerns about vehicles crashing into dikes.
Fifty thousand more sandbags have arrived in Brandon to increase the dikes by another 30 cms to accommodate new higher water levels announced by the province today. The crest of the Assiniboine is still a few days away according to Manitoba Water Stewardship. When it arrives it will be a prolonged crest, at least three days. No new residential evacuations are planned. Over 1300 people have been forced out of their homes so far. The few stragglers left in the flood risk zone have indicated they will leave today.
The Trans Canada Highway remains open despite rising water levels in Grand Valley. There is no water on the road.
The province’s decision to let river water intentionally flood an area southeast of Portage la Prairie has been put on hold for now. The flooding was supposed to occur at 8 a.m. this morning but now an announcement will be made this afternoon at two. Many of the residents in the “controlled” flood area had some loud and nasty things to say to the media yesterday and this morning. The premier is considering his future here and one can only hope this move was vetted by multiple engineers with credentials and experience but no political motives rather than the egocentric dreams of a single-minded politician looking to “save Manitoba.” The Manitoba website promised a map of the whole area to be intentionally flooded but none appeared and is still not available today. This is not a good time to keep people in the dark! Below is a diagram of the proposed site at Hoop and Holler Bend where the intentional flooding begins.
Although not as transparent as it should be, provincial government flood information is here. My next report will be this evening after the 4 p.m. Brandon briefing and provincial decision on intentional flooding. Thanks for checking out my blog. Reid
“Don’t Come to Brandon.”
The Assiniboine River continues to threaten cities, towns and farmland in Manitoba today. The river level at Brandon increased about 3 inches overnight and forecasters estimate the crest of the flow is near. Though the rain has stopped, the weather is quite windy, not ideal. Some good news this morning: no further rain is expected in Brandon for the rest of the week although rain is predicted further north. So far, over 1200 residents have been evacuated south of the river but people on the north side still remain in their homes. According to Brandon flood officials at their morning briefing, nearly all the sandbagging and diking is done. They now are in a state of maintenance, watching for seepage and breaches. The Brandon bypass – Hwy 110 – may be opened to piloted heavy commercial vehicles only today; First Street remains closed but Operations is hopeful it may reopen on the weekend; all lanes of 18th Street may open to traffic today. This sounds promising but the Assiniboine may have other plans.
Brandon’s mayor, Shari Decter Hirst, stated that, though everything looks calm and under control, the city is in the eye of the storm now, waiting to see what the river will do next. She emphasized that it’s not over yet so don’t get complacent. “We don’t need tourists,” the mayor said. “Don’t come to Brandon to gawk at our hardship. We don’t need anyone doing that. Brandon is in a state of emergency. Respect that.” Since most of the evacuees are lodged in Brandon hotels, there are no rooms available to stay in anyway. The Corral Centre remains closed. The mayor again commended the “everyday heroes” who have worked to save the city.
“Controlled” release set for Thursday
Manitoba Water Stewardship announced today the “controlled” release of river water just east of Portage la Prairie is scheduled for Thursday morning at 8 a.m. The intent is to drain some of the Assiniboine into the La Salle River watershed so it will empty into the Red River south of the floodway. Residents of the 150 mostly farm homes affected by the release are evacuating today while military personnel build dikes around their properties. The “controlled” release is preferable to an uncontrolled release which would have unpredictable results. I don’t know how big a gamble this release actually is for the government or how firm their predictability is but I am compelled to reprint poet Gary Snyder’s caution: “It is not nature-as-chaos which threatens us but the State’s presumption that it has created order.” Here is a map of the area to be intentionally flooded.
The Portage Diversion, which diverts Assiniboine water northward to Lake Manitoba, is being re-enforced, its banks heightened to accommodate greater capacity. Homes along the Diversion are on flood evacuation alert.
Other rivers and lakes
The Red River still cuts a wide swath across southern Manitoba. The Floodway is adequately protecting Winnipeg again as water levels decrease slightly. The Souris River is causing havoc in Melita with levels increasing due to excessive rain this week. Dauphin Lake is at flood stage with heavy precipitation expected there today and tomorrow adding to the woes of cottagers and farmers. Over 600 military personnel are working at various sites along the Assiniboine. The province has requested 300 more.
The waiting is underway big time now in Brandon and communities all along the Assiniboine flood plain. When will the crest arrive? Are we protected? Stay tuned for the answers to those and other watery questions. My next report comes late Wednesday evening.
Provincial government flood information here.