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Brandon optimistic despite water surge

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City of Brandon officials are cautiously optimistic about progress in the flood fight — even though evacuees may be out of their homes for a couple of weeks, a city official said this morning.

At a daily media briefing, city officials reassured Brandonites that, overall, things were going well. The rising Assiniboine River may have forced some evacuations, but, at 360.52 metres above sea level, the water level has barely budged in the past 12 hours.

That's within centimetres of the record level, set just yesterday, but last-minute dike construction to hold back the unexpected surge is almost complete, officials said. Then, the city will enter a management phase, watching for seepage and erosion. Water levels are expected to remain high for several more weeks.

Dikes on First Street North are completed, media were told at the briefing, and the road will re-open once it has been pumped out. Staff and inmates from the Brandon Correctional Centre have been helping in that area.

The city has also done a a hazardous material assessment in the Brandon area and have found no rail cars or warehousing of hazardous materials in the at risk zone.

Meanwhile, about 700 evacuees from south of the river have registered at the Keystone Centre, with an additional 285 evacuees calling to register by phone.

There were some problems getting evacuation allowances yesterday, but officials say that has been sorted out.

The evacuation zone is completely off-limits — patrolled by police and private security. Even home and business owners will only be allowed in if they need to check on their sump pumps, and even then they will have to call the city at 729-2186 to pre-register and to be told when and where to go.

The city also notes that natural gas to the evacuated buildings has been shut off, due to concerns pipes may shift if the area is flooded. Crews will turn the gas back on when it is time to do so, the city says, but all told, evacuees might be out of their homes for a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, a handout from the city says that Brandon's drinking water remains safe. The water quality in Brandon has been tested on a regular basis and quality remains good and has not been affected by the flood.

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