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Province closes controlled breach at Hoop and Holler Bend

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The Manitoba government has closed the controlled breach in the Assiniboine River at the Hoop and Holler Bend.

The measure is possible because river flows at Portage are slowing, and the Portage Diversion and the dikes along the river are able to manage the water, the province said in a bulletin.

The province said the closure cannot be considered permanent yet.

High flows on the Assiniboine River, ongoing concerns with the integrity of the diversion and the river dikes, and a forecast rainstorm for the Souris and Qu’Appelle watershed this weekend mean the spillway may still need to be reopened in the coming week.

Water from the breach completely surrounded just three homes. Many more had water come with a few hundred metres.

Only 3.4 square kilometres were affected from the breach — which was made last Saturday — and three homes were surrounded by water, but the province said there had been no damage to them.

Closing the dike is the first step to getting life back to normal in the region, Selinger said.

"It’s a big step forward to get it closed right now," he said. "It allows us to start normalizing conditions."

It was good news for Shae Doherty. The owner of Our Farm greenhouse near the Hoop and Holler bend where the dike was breached has been on edge for weeks, wondering if the deliberate flood would damage his home and destroy his livelihood.

"In one way, I’m really excited that they’re closing it so the water is not going to be on my property anymore," he said Friday. "On the other hand, I’m disappointed that they had to open it because my traffic has to come around a long way to the greenhouse."

And while his greenhouse was safe, protected behind piles of sandbags, Doherty said the rest of his land was under 1.5 metres of water in some areas.

"Hopefully it will start to dry up," he said. "But the water is already on my property and I’ve lost that land It’s going to sit there for quite a while ... It’s good that I’m able to move the product in the greenhouse but at the same time, once the greenhouse is finished, my vegetable crops, which I normally plant out there — it’s going to be a bit of a tangle."

Mandatory evacuations remain for 14 homes currently affected by the controlled release. Property owners in the affected zone that have not seen any water will be allowed to return home but must keep their flood-protection systems in place until the use of the spillway has been completely ruled out.

Mandatory evacuations for residents near the Portage Diversion structures remain in place.

Meanwhile, a compensation program will be announced on Tuesday for people affected by the controlled breach, Emergency Measures Organization Minister Steve Ashton said.

History

Updated on Friday, May 20, 2011 at 2:10 PM CDT: Corrects date.

4:24 PM: Adds information on compensation plan.

5:28 PM: Adds three homes surrounded by water.

9:18 PM: Adds quotes from Premier Selinger, landowner.

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