Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Brandonites must evacuate

About 1,000 forced to leave homes

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BRANDON -- About 1,000 Brandonites living near the surging Assiniboine River have been ordered to evacuate and about another 1,000 are expecting to be on the move soon.

City councillors and police went door-to-door Monday to issue the first wave of notices for the precautionary, but mandatory, evacuation.

Flood Fight

Senior Edith Sumner and her cat, Kitty, were ready to go. A few days ago, Sumner resisted when friends suggested she should leave -- but a police officer at her door Monday morning was a hint she should go.

"No fooling around; I can't say no," said Sumner, who had her belongings stacked by her door.

Residents in at-risk areas were warned of the evacuation possibility weeks ago, and Coun. Stephen Montague said there was no resistance.

"People have been prepared," Montague said. "I'm impressed. People have taken this very seriously."

Albert Chaboyer was evacuated from Sokol Manor retirement home and said some residents met the evacuation order with tears. Some had no relatives or friends to stay with, Chaboyer said.

"Hopefully, it's only going to be two or three days, maybe a week," he said.

Brandon police Chief Keith Atkinson says his force is ready for any would-be looters.

"We are having patrols in the area, and we also are hiring private security to be in the area to report any suspicious activity."

A provincial spokesman said Monday there was no plan to evacuate the 317 inmates at the Brandon jail as it was expected to remain "high and dry."

Manitoba Water Stewardship projects the Assiniboine's crest could arrive as early as today or as late as Thursday.

The city received good news when Monday's anticipated heavy rains held off.

"It's been a great day," Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said. "We finally caught a break in that we didn't get the rain, and that bought us some time to get the aqua dikes up. I don't think (the rain) will hold though because of the forecast, but we made good use of the window we had today."

Brandon RCMP warned motorists to stay off roads closed by flooding following a mission to rescue a motorist stranded in flood water.

The driver of a pickup truck called for help after he was trapped by flood waters overnight Sunday while driving on Provincial Road 459 near Brandon, just south of the Trans-Canada Highway.

Emergency crews called to the scene about 2:30 a.m. Sunday found the truck just off the highway in a ditch surrounded by flood water.

A water-rescue team had to rescue the driver, a 51-year-old man, because of the danger of fast moving water. There were no reports of any injuries.

RCMP are investigating why the driver was on a road that was marked with a sign as closed to traffic due to flooding. The motorist may face charges under the Highway Traffic Act.

The RCMP issued the warning Monday afternoon saying it's dangerous for motorists and crews who rescue them to drive on roads that are marked as closed due to flooding.

Emergency crews from the RM of Whitehead, Virden and Brandon, along with the Manitoba Office of the Fire Commissioner, were called in on the rescue, along with Brandon RCMP.

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 10, 2011 A4

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