Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Water threatens schools, bus routes

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SANFORD Collegiate and at least a dozen other public schools lie along the potential path of direct or diverted flood water from the swollen Assiniboine River.

Three Hutterite colony public schools on the Brantwood, Ingleside and Sunnyside colonies would be flooded within four or five days if the province deliberately breaches the dike along the Assiniboine, said Portage la Prairie School Division superintendent Hazen Barrett.

Flood Fight

Red River Valley School Division superintendent Kelly Barkman said two schools in Sanford and one in Starbuck could be threatened if water spills into the La Salle River and then onto a massive area of farmland and residential homes.

"Those are directly along the La Salle," Barkman said. "Sanford Collegiate is right on the riverbank of the La Salle. I'm trying to get from the RM and the province how much it has to rise to get the town and the school -- I don't have that information yet."

School officials expect significant disruptions to school bus routes, and they're making contingency plans to move evacuated children into other schools.

But they're fearful that school buildings could be directly threatened by flood water, especially any deliberately diverted by a controlled breach along the Assiniboine.

"We don't know where it's all going to go," Barkman said, pointing out that the La Salle eventually flows just behind St. Norbert Collegiate in Seine River School Division before joining the Red River.

Barkman's division has schools in Oak Bluff and Domain that could potentially get affected, though he has his fingers crossed that they're far enough away from the rivers or potential overland flooding.

"Our school in Oakville, we've got it on alert," Barrett said. "It is downstream from where that potential breach is expected to leak out to. We've been told the water will go south of where the school is."

Barrett said the province has told his division that the train tracks running by Oakville are a dike that will keep any breach water away from the town.

Barrett said that students at five schools, including Portage Collegiate, could be affected by bus disruptions.

It is possible that Carman-based Prairie Rose School Division schools and bus routes could be affected in communities such as Elie, St. Laurent and St. François Xavier.

nick.martin@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 12, 2011 A5

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