Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Flood defences holding: officials

High water levels to remain for weeks

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NO news was good news for Manitoba flood officials on Tuesday.

The dikes along the Souris, Qu'Appelle and Assiniboine rivers were holding up, although high water levels were expected to persist for some time.

The Red River was near its crest at Letellier -- 80 kilometres south of Winnipeg -- but it was a full foot lower than the 2009 high-water mark there.

While the Assiniboine River rose two-thirds of a foot in Brandon, compared with Monday, there was no immediate threat. The crest in Manitoba's second-largest city is expected between April 29 and May 3.

The main issue Tuesday appeared to be the high number of Manitobans displaced by flooding -- 1,954. Most were First Nations residents and most had to leave their communities as a precaution because of the loss of road access.

Many of the 872 people forced from Roseau River First Nation could be back home within days, however, depending on river levels, officials said.

But many of the 665 people forced from Peguis First Nation may be out of their homes for weeks, said Chuck Sanderson, executive director of Manitoba's Emergency Measures Organization.

In their daily update Tuesday, officials stressed their battle against water, on many fronts in Manitoba, is far from over.

Water levels are expected to remain high for several weeks, with only gradual drops, officials said. A heavy rainstorm could increase flows, although there is no significant precipitation in the short-term forecast.

"It's really important to note... that significant volumes of water are still moving through the system. We're nowhere near the full volume of what's been draining," said Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton. "This is a flood of extended duration."

A high-water advisory is in place for the Assiniboine River downstream of Portage la Prairie. Ashton said reinforcement of the river's banks was completed earlier this week. Officials are confident the reinforcements can handle increased flows. They'll have to since the channel that diverts water to Lake Manitoba near Portage la Prairie was operating at near capacity.

Meanwhile, the Shellmouth Reservoir in western Manitoba was almost full. It rose more than a foot in the past 24 hours and was about two feet from spilling into the Assiniboine River.

The reservoir protects homes and communities along the Assiniboine by reducing the flood peak and the amount of flooded land. Flood officials say that without it, water levels at Brandon would be four feet higher than they were Tuesday.

How much water will it take in this spring? Officials estimated Tuesday it will receive more than 370,000 Olympic swimming pools worth -- or almost twice what it can hold.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

 

 

Flood update

 

Highway 30 at Gretna was reopened, as was the Canada-U.S. border crossing at the Manitoba town on Tuesday.

Of the 1,954 Manitobans displaced by flooding, 665 are from Peguis First Nation, 872 are from Roseau River First Nation, 107 are from the RM of Morris, 181 are from the RM of Ritchot and five are from Sioux Valley First Nation.

The Red River at James Avenue in Winnipeg fell slightly to 18.36 feet on Tuesday. Meanwhile at Letellier, the Red was cresting -- but still a foot below 2009 levels.

Water levels on the Saskatchewan River near The Pas were down three-quarters of a foot from Monday.

The Souris River at Souris fell nearly half a foot after cresting on Monday.

Prolonged high flows are expected along the Assiniboine River for the next 10 days.

-- Source: Province of Manitoba

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 27, 2011 A3

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