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Municipalities keeping watch over river level

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The Assiniboine River’s level is predicted to fall gradually from 18,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) to 15,000 this week, but municipal workers and local residents are still keeping a close watch on vulnerable and flooded areas.

"They’re continuing to monitor things," said RM of Cartier public information officer
Carmen Asu.

Asu doesn’t have to look far past the fence around her Ferry Road home to see how high the Assiniboine is, since part of her yard is submerged by river water. Her house is surrounded by a sandbag dike and she has a sump pump running continually to try to keep her basement dry.

Her house lies directly across the river from the RM of St. Francois Xavier, where some homeowners are facing the same problem, according to reeve Roger Poitras.

"The people in Harbour Cove are running pumps," he said.

Long Lake Drain is also being pumped out to minimize flooding of farm land.

Approximately 70 SFX properties at risk for flooding were protected by sandbag dikes quickly erected by teams of volunteers including a busload of provincial government employees, Manitoba Conservation forest firefighters from northern and eastern Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro staff, and members of the Second Battalion of Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry and 17 Wing Winnipeg.

While houses were protected, some farmland has been flooded. Poitras said about 20 farms have sustained damage, and he isn’t sure if the crops can still be salvaged.

"The sooner they lower the river’s flow, the better," he said on July 17.

Morris MLA Shannon Martin praised local volunteers for their efforts and willingness to step forward and help where needed to prepare for the lower Assiniboine to crest. However, he said there needs to be a long-term plan to deal with Assiniboine River fluctuations.

"There is no one fix to this situation," he said. "This can’t be looked at in isolation."

He supports efforts like the Assiniboine River Basin Initiative, which involves groups from Manitoba, Saskatchewan and North Dakota. The initiative’s planning committee is holding a conference in Regina in November with the goal of forming an organization similar to the Red River Basin Commission, which has dealt with flood prevention along the Red River.

Martin said he’s ready to assist property owners needing help to apply for compensation for damage caused by flooding.

"It’s about getting fair compensation as fast as possible," Martin said.

The provincial government is taking disaster assistance applications and forms and details about the program are available at www.manitobaemo.ca or by contacting the Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization at 204-945-3050 in Winnipeg or toll-free at 1-888-267-8298. Applications are also available at most municipal offices.

Asu and Poitras thank the municipal employees and volunteers who set up and staffed the municipalities’ Emergency Operations Centres as well as all who helped construct dikes.

Poitras said SFX council is planning a community appreciation event in September to recognize those who volunteered and worked to prevent local homes from flooding.

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