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City begins work on flood cleanup

Brandon’s State of Local Emergency officially ended July 28, and now city officials are turning their attention to the cleanup process.

One of the first tasks will be reopening Grand Valley Road.

"We’ll clean the road, take the dike down," Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said. "We’re going to be putting the rock and the clay close by in case we need to deal with either more flooding this summer — heaven forbid — or a spring melt flood."

Decter Hirst said Grand Valley Road will be the focus next week.

Many of Brandon’s parks were underwater during last month’s flood, including Dinsdale, Queen Elizabeth and Optimist. They will remain closed, as standing water remains in some areas and the grounds are saturated.

"I’m hopeful we’ll have them back up so people can enjoy them for the rest of the nice weather ... but it’ll all depend on how quickly that water goes down," Decter Hirst said.

Brian Kayes, the city’s director of risk and emergency management, said once the Assiniboine River recedes back into its banks, the assessment stage will begin.

"We have already contacted disaster financial assistance and made arrangements through them to come out, and begin to make some assessments on the various areas," he said.

DFA representatives will not be in Brandon for a few more weeks, which Kayes said will work out for the best, as they wait for the water levels to go down further.

"We’re expecting to make claims on all of the riverbank corridor areas, as well as … from the wind storm," Decter Hirst said. "A lot of the city’s claims will be for materials and labour. They’ll look and see the damage is consistent with what we’re claiming, then they’ll go back and assess what the compensation is going to be."

DFA is a federal program administered by the province.

As for damage to First Street North, the city is working closely with Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation to determine short- and long-term repairs.

"If we’re going to go forward with allowing First Street to flood, then we are going to reinforce it, build it higher, accommodate the water with some kind of … causeway or culvert system?" Decter Hirst said. "A lot of ideas in the long-term are sort of being thrown around."

The City of Brandon declared a State of Local Emergency on June 29, in response to widespread overland flooding following a weekend storm.

Decter Hirst said the dike reinforcement work, completed following the 2011 flood, greatly helped the situation this year.

"The experience of the city crews as well on what needed to be done, we knew where our vulnerabilities were in terms of storm sewers and drainage issues, so we were able to again very quickly get those sealed off ... and batten down the hatches in the city," she said.

What complicated everything, the mayor added, was the extreme overland flooding that occurred due to rain and wind storms.

"We literally were fighting on three or four fronts at once," Decter Hirst said. "It was incredible to see the plans put into effect ... to each one of these very critical emergencies that could have had disastrous consequences if we hadn’t been successful."

Work will also continue on the city’s five-step plan to permanently improve flood protection, which includes reinforcing dikes, getting rid of storm sewer outflows and building a new lift station.

Looking back on the past month, Kayes was pleased with how everyone pulled together and managed to "keep things dry."

"It’s a whole team effort that really makes us successful," he said. "We were able to work together as one large 40,000-member emergency response team, it seems."

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @jillianaustin

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 2, 2014

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Brandon’s State of Local Emergency officially ended July 28, and now city officials are turning their attention to the cleanup process.

One of the first tasks will be reopening Grand Valley Road.

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Brandon’s State of Local Emergency officially ended July 28, and now city officials are turning their attention to the cleanup process.

One of the first tasks will be reopening Grand Valley Road.

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