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Manitoba gains upper hand in flood fight: Ashton

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Manitoba officials say they have an upper hand on the fight against the raging Assiniboine River.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 15/05/2011 (4276 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Manitoba officials say they have an upper hand on the fight against the raging Assiniboine River.

“Thus far, there’s significantly less impact but we are still going to be into this for some time,” Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton said Sunday.

He made the comment one day after workers broke through a dike on the Assiniboine River, allowing 500 cubic feet per second to spread onto land south of the river at Hoop and Holler Bend, east of Portage la Prairie.

DAVID LIPNOWSKI / Winnipeg Free Press Road 62 N east of the Hoop and Holler Bend — where officials breached the dike Saturday to alleviate pressure on the Assiniboine River — remains closed as water from the river flows across farmland.

As of Sunday, no homes were flooded. There was water lapping at dikes surrounding three area homes.

Warm weather, sunny skies and a slow flow through the breach are giving the province a sense of control over the swollen Assiniboine River.

 “We are continuing to work around the clock, both to monitor and to direct the flow ,” Ashton said, describing the flow from the river at Hoop and Holler Bend at less than 500 cubic feet per second.

“What that means on the ground is that it is expected to move fairly slowly at this point… at less than a walking pace,” Ashton said.

Ashton said he’s appealing to Ottawa for 100 more soldiers to help with the effort. As of Sunday, 1,500 soldiers were entrenched int eh flood fight.

Ryan Remiorz / The Canadian Press Soldiers reinforce a soft spot in the dike along the Assiniboine River Sunday in Poplar Point. Even with all the high water this year, Manitoba's system of dikes, dams and diversion canals has protected the vast majority of buildings. Only 100 homes across the province have been flooded so far, according to government statistics, and only 10 have had flooding above the basement level.

 

The Assiniboine is projected to crest at Portage la Prairie at levels beyond the capacity of both the river and the Portage Diversion; that means there will be twice as much water flowing through Hoop and Holler Bend by Tuesday or Wednesday.

But for now the water is headed exactly where the province wants it to go, through Elm Creek and into the La Salle River watershed — both are expected to handle the flow without exceeding capacity.

On Sunday,  water from Hoop and Holler reached the Elm Creek channel.

“We’ve demonstrated very significantly that it can be controllable,” Ashton said, commenting on a sense of security that is starting to surface after a week of anxiety over whether the water could be controlled.

Road 62 North is closed due to flood water from dike breach.

Cost of flood fight

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger said record flooding will cost the province around $200 million.

“That’s just a guesstimate right now, but we’ve got a lot of work to do to prevent as much damage as possible,” Selinger said.

The province has already spent about $70 million on measures to reduce flood damage to homes and communities, Selinger said.

However, Selinger said the province does not yet know how much it will cost to compensate land owners affected by the deliberate dike breach.

Road 32 West is closed due to flood water from dike breach.

Provincial officials will continue watching and working on flood reduction measures throughout the summer because water levels are expected to stay high for months, Selinger said.

“When that’s all said and done, we’ll have a good idea of what the cost will be,” he said.

Red River

Eastward to the Red River, water has receded enough to allow for ring dikes and highways to be reopened this week.

The ring dike closures in the communities of St. Jean Baptiste and Morris in the Red River Valley will be removed over the next two or three days.

Government of Manitoba Controlled release inundation zone with additional at-risk areas.

As a result, Highway 75 will be open to traffic on Tuesday at 6 a.m. The highway was closed April 18, marking a month that traffic stopped between Winnipeg and North Dakota.

Meanwhile, on a more local level, provincial road 246 at St. Jean opened on Sunday. And closures on railway crossings in Morris are expected to be lifted over the next few days.

The weak links in the province’s flood fight remain the dikes on the Assiniboine River east of Portage la Prairie and the Portage Diversion where seven families were evacuated over the weekend after weak points in the dike system surfaced. Troops are shoring up weak spots at the backside of on both sides of the diversion.

Lake levels, meanwhile are still a concern; especially on Lake Manitoba.

Water from the deliberate breach of the dike at Hoop and Holler Bend reached Road 32 West just south of Highway 331.

Government of Manitoba Map shows path of the water so far from the controlled release point.

Dozens of volunteers were hard at work in Oakville, where officials said the flood water would likely arrive on Tuesday.

History

Updated on Sunday, May 15, 2011 5:37 PM CDT: Updates with Sunday developments

Updated on Sunday, May 15, 2011 9:39 PM CDT: Adds Premier Selinger on cost of flood fight

Updated on Sunday, May 15, 2011 11:24 PM CDT: Adds details throughout

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