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Flood coming sooner, higher and lasting longer

The southbound lanes of First Street North in Brandon are completely submerged beneath the rising Assiniboine River on Friday morning. It's now estimated that First Street could be closed for a couple of weeks.

JILLIAN AUSTIN / BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

The southbound lanes of First Street North in Brandon are completely submerged beneath the rising Assiniboine River on Friday morning. It's now estimated that First Street could be closed for a couple of weeks.

It's worse than they thought.

At a 5 p.m. briefing at City Hall, Brandon's emergency coordinator Brian Kayes said that Assiniboine River flooding will peak as early as tomorrow at noon — possibly higher than the levels reached in 2011.

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That's a foot or more higher than the city had been hoping and planning for.

And it won't be a quick in-and-out flood like they thought either. In fact, flood waters are now expected to stick around for up to a couple of weeks before they receed.

The river level as of this afternoon has risen to 1180.05 feet above sea level measured at First Street — that's more than a foot higher than it was this morning, when First Street North was first closed.

The city says that the provincially projected peak is now 1182.89 feet above sea level and that peak may arrive by tomorrow at noon.

In terms of the sheer amount of water, the province says the Assiniboine through Brandon could see between 35,000 and 36,500 cubic feet per second on July 5. The peak water flow during the 2011 flood was 36,730 cubic feet per second.

The water should recede slightly for a couple of days after tomorrow's crest, before peaking again around July 17 at 32,000 cubic feet per second, and then remain for a couple of weeks.

That implies that First Street North could be closed until late July. 

Kayes said there was very little "attenuation" in this flood, meaning that the flow of water wasn't being absorbed as it went along the river channel as much as spring floods normally are.

Pre-evacuation notices are being delivered this evening to areas north and south of the river, and evacuation centres have been set up at both the ACC North Hill Campus and the Keystone Centre. However, the city stresses than an evacuation is not anticipated.

Work is continuing on the Grand Valley dike to ensure it is stable enough to withstand the flow of water. Crews are working next to Eleanor Kidd Park and building up the dike curves there as well. The Conservation Drive dike is expected to be done soon.

If there is a rainstorm in the next few days — Environment Canada has said there there is a risk of a severe thunderstorm tonight and tomorrow — the city says that its drainage system has recovered from last weekend's downpours and there should be capacity in the sytem to handle it. However, people may need to be patient if it collects and has to be pumped out.

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