Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Sandbags aplenty as fear grips town

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SWAN RIVER is under a state of emergency.

Mayor Glen McKenzie said Tuesday evening he declared the state of emergency after the province issued a flood warning for the town, located 500 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, near the Saskatchewan border.

"We got information from Emergency Measures that there is a threat of flooding on the Swan River. There's a big outflow coming from the headwaters of the Swan River in Saskatchewan," he said.

The town made its declaration shortly after the warning.

McKenzie said the province's flood watchdog warned the surge could come within the next 12 to 24 hours, but more likely within 15 hours.

That report propelled the town into swift action. Low-lying areas were being sandbagged, with about 75 to 100 volunteers out on the streets as darkness fell, heaving sandbags into place, along with aqua dikes.

Public works employees are placing protective plastic barriers over manhole covers and catch basins, to minimize seepage into the town's water and sewer system.

The town had expected the river to crest any time but with the latest warning, that crest could be a foot higher than earlier reported.

"The mood is everybody is pitching in. We'll do the best we can," McKenzie said.

Flooding on the Swan River isn't unusual but a surge like this only happens every three or four years, the mayor said.

 

-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 8, 2013 A7

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