Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Hasty evacuations loom in Brandon

Gauge error underestimates flow

  • Print

Residents in low-lying areas of Brandon are preparing for an evacuation after a faulty gauge in Saskatchewan underestimated the crest of the Assiniboine River, officials said Friday.

The city is scrambling to raise dikes two feet to protect the city from what could be a record-setting crest that could arrive in Brandon as early as May 12.

"This is our flood of the century," Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said.

The river rose by about half a foot between Thursday and Friday to beat the 1923 flood level and it's approaching those of 1904 and 1882.

When the crest arrives, the high water is expected to remain for several weeks.

"The forecast has been updated, upgraded and we're now predicting that there could be as much as 1.3 feet of additional water in Brandon on the Assiniboine," Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton said during a provincial flooding update Friday.

The extra water is coming from the Qu'Appelle River in Saskatchewan. A faulty gauge in Welby, Sask., incorrectly measured the river's flow. The Qu'Appelle River joins with the Assiniboine River near St. Lazare, Man., where a dike failed Friday, swamping several houses in the community that has battled high water levels for more than two weeks this spring.

Water breached the dike hundreds of metres away from Jennifer Fouillard's St. Lazare home, but water rushed into the house, forcing her to scramble up a nearby hill to safety.

Residents on the other side of the river, who knew she was there, scrambled for their boats to rescue her and they helped get her to safety.

"She was spooked, but was happy to just get out," said her partner, Owen Jessop, who is St. Lazare's fire chief. "She had a peek out the window, and the inside of the dike was equal to the outside of the dike, so she ran up the hill and got out safely."

In Brandon, clay dikes are being built up permanently and in a short time frame and people are being asked to stay away from main thoroughfares in the city's river valley. On Friday afternoon, traffic tied up the city's main north-south arteries for more than 20 minutes.

"We are asking the entire city's co-operation," said Brandon emergency co-ordinator Brian Kayes. "Stay away from the river. This is a construction area. You are not helping by being there. If you don't have a good reason to be there, stay away."

Getting close to the river is even more life-threatening as flows reach 32,000 cubic feet per second at Brandon's First Street bridge, more than 5,000 cubic feet per second from previous highs. Those are potentially lethal levels, should anyone fall into the river.

Ashton said it's estimated the volume of water flowing down the Assiniboine River is 50 per cent greater than the 1976 flood of record.

"We're facing significant challenges, provincewide, and the Assiniboine is a very significant challenge," he said.

The permanent dike, which will be built up using clay and gravel, could be raised even more than two feet if water levels rise higher than provincial estimates. As a last resort, temporary measures such as aqua-dikes may be implemented, though officials said permanent flood mitigation is the preferred strategy.

It is not known how much the new dike construction will cost, or if the city will receive funding from the province to deal with this pressing need.

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 7, 2011 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Glenn January won't blame offensive line for first loss

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings are growing up quickly near Cresent Lake in Portage La Prairie, Manitoba- See Bryksa 30 Day goose project- Day 11- May 15, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • A goose heads for shade in the sunshine Friday afternoon at Woodsworth Park in Winnipeg - Day 26– June 22, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Will higher pork prices change your grocery-shopping habits?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google