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Community waits for crest of Swan River

Posted: 05/7/2013 8:42 PM | Comments: 0

Last Modified: 05/8/2013 7:54 AM | Updates

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The flood threat in the western Manitoba town of Swan River may not be as bad as first thought.

"It appears this morning the river won’t be coming up to the level provincial EMO (Emergency Measures Organization) predicted," Mayor Glen McKenzie said in an interview this morning. "It looks pretty good right now."

McKenzie said the Swan River is still about a third of a metre below the bottom of the sandbag dike along Duncan Crescent, a low-lying residential street near the outskirts of town that is most at risk.

There are about 20 homes along the street, and none has been flooded.

McKenzie said the river would have to rise another metre or so to go over the top of the dikes, and town officials hopeful that won’t happen.

He said they’ll be meeting with EMO officials later this morning for the latest update on when the crest is expected to reach the town, and how high it’s likely to be.

He said volunteers pitched in Tuesday to help stock pile sandbags at strategic locations in the flood zone.

"So we can move quickly if it’s needed," he added.

McKenzie declared the state of emergency on Tuesday after the province issued a flood warning for the town, located 500 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, near the Saskatchewan border.

"We got information from Emergency Measures that there is a threat of flooding on the Swan River. There’s a big out flow coming from the headwaters of the Swan River in Saskatchewan," he said Tuesday.

He said the province’s flood watchdog initially warned the surge might come within the next 12 to 24 hours, but more likely within 15 hours.

That report propelled the town into swift action. Low-lying areas were sandbagged, with about 100 to 150 volunteers out on the streets as darkness fell, heaving sandbags into place, along with aqua dikes.

Public work employees meanwhile are placing protective plastic barriers over man holes covers and catch basins, to minimize seepage into the town’s water and sewer system.

The town had expected the river to crest any time but with the latest warning, that crest could be a foot higher than earlier reported.

"The mood, is everybody is pitching in. We’ll do the best we can," McKenzie said at the time.

Flooding on the Swan River isn’t unusual but a surge like this only happens every three or four years, the mayor said.


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Updated on Tuesday, May 7, 2013 at 9:07 PM CDT: Adds mayor's comments

May 8, 2013 at 7:54 AM: Updates with information from mayor Wednesday morning.

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