Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Fighting to save homes, businesses in Brandon

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BRANDON -- Volunteers and Brandon city workers have stood side by side in an attempt to save homes and businesses from the surging Assiniboine River.

City workers Brad Chapin, Mel Baker and Blaine Moyer finished a three-hour sandbagging shift Tuesday evening, capping off their fourth 11-hour day in a row fighting the one-in-300-year flood. The trio was pretty confident their hard work would pay off.

Flood Fight

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"I hope we save everything, we hope we save the city," Chapin said.

They worked shoulder-to-shoulder with a team of about 70 volunteers along the length of the top of the muddy clay dike.

The city put out a call for 100 volunteers Tuesday afternoon to help with sandbagging in the areas of 17th Street East and Third Street East. Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said it took about an hour for Tuesday's call for volunteers to be filled.

Rain had fallen on and off all day, and emergency services co-ordinator Brian Kayes said the volunteers were needed because equipment was getting stuck in the slippery conditions.

Besides this week's evacuations of homes in Brandon's north end, businesses in the area, especially in the Corral Centre, have been affected.

Walmart Canada, one of the Corral Centre's largest employers, closed for business after its regular hours on Tuesday and will remaining closed for at least the next week.

The nearly 300 full- and part-time staff that have been scheduled for shifts through to next Tuesday will receive their anticipated pay, at which time the situation will be re-evaluated.

"We're still optimistic that we won't get flooded," says Susan Schutta, director of corporate affairs for Walmart Canada.

Safeway Canada's Corral Centre location, however, will remain open.

Company spokesman John Graham says the location's grocery store and gas bar continues to provide a vital service to both area residents and flood-fighting crews.

The same goes for the Home Depot in the Corral Centre, which is remaining open, but assessing the situation "hour-by-hour," a company spokesman said Tuesday.

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 11, 2011 A4

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