Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Please stay away from Brandon, mayor says
Brandon's mayor is pleading for people to stay away as the city continues to fight a record-breaking flood on the Assiniboine River.
"This is not business as usual. This is a city under a state of emergency. Please don't visit here," said Mayor Shari Decter Hirst at the morning flood update.
Despite sightseers and shoppers who sometimes clog the roads and get in the way, the city said this morning that some dike improvements are done, and others are continuing, even as nearly 600 evacuees continue to wait in some 250 hotel rooms.
The mayor praised hoteliers who have welcomed evacuees -- even as they've had to deal with some "grumpy" people.
Also, the city soothed some fears about water seepage by noting that places where standing water has being left on the "dry" side of the dikes is to help stablize the dikes. Unless it is impacting private property, city officials say it is no problem.
The Assiniboine River is down slightly this morning to 360.49 metres above sea level, as measured at the First Street Bridge. That's down from yesterday's record-high level, 360.55 metres.
The crest is still expected to be a few days away, and water levels are expected to remain high for several weeks -- keeping evacuees out of their homes for a substantial period of time, longer even than the two weeks that was predicted yesterday.
"It's not over when the crest gets here," said one city official, noting that the river will still have to return to its banks. "This could go on all summer."
The mayor said that the city was planning for the long haul.
"Now we wait. This is the eye of the storm," Decter Hirst said. "It's not over yet, don't stand down."
Progress is being made on some portions of the flood fight today -- Highway 110 has been partially re-opened. The highway, part of Brandon's eastern bypass, will provide a much-needed link between the Trans-Canada and Highway 10. It was closed on Monday due to flooding, but crews have worked to install aqua dikes and to pump water off the road.
Currently, Highway 110 will be limited to single-lane traffic and will be restricted to heavy trucks only. A pilot vehicle will be required to escort trucks.
On Grand Valley Road, where water is rushing through an underpass at the Trans-Canada Highway, officials say there are no structural issues. Police have been shooing onlookers away.
Inside the city, 18th Street North has been reduced to two lanes again, but the city said it could be fully open later today or tomorrow.
First Street North could remain fully closed until late Friday or early Saturday, although officials caution that speeds will be reduced even when it's open.
Pedestrians wil be kept off of both routes, even when they re-open, and no stopping will be tolerated, the city said.
Media briefings are held each day at 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. at Brandon City Hall.
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