Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Volunteers finishing dike work in Melita

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RM of WOODWORTH -- Volunteers are left to complete dike work in Melita after Wednesday's announced crest of the Souris River.

"We are building secondary dikes now and are building up our dike around our sewage lift station," said Melita Coun. Bill Holden. "Once we get done with work on our ring dikes, we will take that sandbag dike up higher."

That lift station dike may be as critical as the ring dike itself. If the Souris River breaches the dikes and inundates that lift station, the town, located 142 kilometres southwest of Brandon, would likely have to be evacuated.

As the river remains about 50 centimetres from the ring dike's top and an inflatable dike has added a metre to the ring dike, the lift station is safe for now.

"According to Water Stewardship, the water actually went down in Melita," Holden said. "We don't know if this is our final crest or not, but this is really good news. We just don't know how long this crest will be sustained because there's a lot of water there."

The big concern for Melita residents is the south side of the ring dike, where seepage has weakened a section of the levee enough that vehicles are no longer allowed on it, said Melita Coun. Grant Hume, who is also the town's Emergency Operations Centre co-ordinator.

"That's a concern and construction crews have been working on that all day," Hume said. "The section where there's been seepage, there's a C-section of dike built around it. They decided they didn't want to disturb that part of the original dike any more."

In addition to the tube dike, a Hesco barrier has been built inside Melita's town limits on Highway 83 to serve as a secondary dike.

The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service at Bismarck, N.D., reported water should rise about another inch at Westhope, N.D, the last gauge station before the Canadian border. That would put the Souris River more than a foot above the 1976 flood of record at Westhope.

 

-- Brandon Sun

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 21, 2011 A4

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