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Deliberate breach unfolding as planned: Manitoba

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WINNIPEG — The deliberate breaching of the Assiniboine River by the province on Saturday is unfolding as planned, Emergency Measures Organization Minister Steve Ashton said Monday.

How well it works — and the extent of artificial flooding of farms and homes south east of the Hoop and Holler Bend — will be tested in the next few days as the crest of the Assiniboine River moves through Brandon towards Portage la Prairie.

So far, three homes have been surrounded by water, southeast of the Hoop and Holler Bend cut, the province said Monday afternoon. Earth, flood-tube and sandbag dikes are holding.

Along the Assibiboine River itself, the province continues to monitor some 20 weak spots on dikes along the river west of Portage La Prairie.

The controlled release of water from the 30-metre wide breach site will likely not exceed 1,000 cubic feet per second in the coming days, officials said.

The Manitoba government let loose the swollen Assiniboine River at Hoop and Holler Bend to ease pressure on dikes and prevent more widespread flooding if a dike blew.

What’s working in favour of the flood fight now is a sunny sky and no rain in the forecast.

"We now have the weather on our side," Ashton said.

There are 3,600 Manitobans displaced by flooding.

"These seven days have not been without fear and anxiety," Ashton said.

Ashton also said about 1,500 Canadian Forces personne l— infantry, air force and navy — are involved in the flood fight in the Hoop and Holler area and along the Assiniboine River to make sure dikes hold.

Ashton said the role of the military has allowed provincial workers to move north to around Lake Manitoba to help in emergency sandbagging in the St. Laurent area.

He said Lake Manitoba is at its highest level in 50 years, measured recently at 815.53 feet above sea level, almost three feet higher than its normal level.

History

Updated on Monday, May 16, 2011 at 3:11 PM CDT: Adds information on houses surrounded.

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