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Communities declare states of emergency

Brandon, others reeling from heavy rainfall

Volunteers help build a sandbag dike around a home in Reston on Sunday.

TIM SMITH / BRANDON SUN Enlarge Image

Volunteers help build a sandbag dike around a home in Reston on Sunday.

BRANDON -- Western Manitoba was not spared from the weekend deluge, with the City of Brandon declaring a state of emergency Sunday and the town of Cromer being partially evacuated.

Brandon city crews responded to numerous instances of overland flooding, drainage issues and downed tree debris caused by high rainfall and high winds over the weekend.

The main access road to the Brandon Municipal Airport (McGill Field) was closed due to overland flooding in the immediate area Sunday. As a result, WestJet flights in and out of Brandon were cancelled.

"The infrastructure talks to us and we need to be able to respond," said Rod Sage, general manager of operations for the city. "After 2005, we know what to look for, and we are seeing signs that problems could arise very quickly if we get more rain."

Sage spoke to councillors along with the city's emergency co-ordinator, Brian Kayes. The pair agreed that although an emergency has not hit yet, this is a necessary pre-emptive measure.

"By declaring the state of emergency now, we will have resources in place if something is to happen," Kayes said.

A state of local emergency provides a municipality with a number of extraordinary powers to be able to respond to weather disasters.

"This will allow workers to move throughout the city without worrying about trespassing laws," Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said. "We ask citizens to co-operate with city workers to best help them during the next few days."

Five pumps were working throughout the city to minimize flooding issues. Six more were expected to be in the city by this morning.

"These new pumps will be used as needed," Sage said. "Domestic sewer issues will trump overland flooding for pump use because domestic sewer will cause more direct issues for residents."

The state of local emergency will be in effect until July 28 unless Brandon's city council chooses to extend it at a later date.

Residents who have experienced water in their basements are encouraged to check their insurance policies for clarification on coverage. Individuals are reminded to document and photograph the details of any damage.

"We encourage residents to use their common sense," Decter Hirst said. "Stay away from high water, and in cases of power outages check on neighbours."

States of emergency were also in effect in the RMs of Arthur, Edward, Wallace and Pipestone.

Environment Canada's severe weather centre estimates areas between Virden, about 78 kilometres west of Brandon, and Moosomin, Sask., were hit with between 150 and 200 millimetres of rain from Friday to Sunday morning.

The RMàof Pipestone was hit hard Saturday night, causing the evacuation of roughly 30 residents in the town of Cromer starting at 3 a.m.

"We evacuated people and declared a state of emergency early this morning," said Reeve Ross Tycoles. "It was not hard to do, because much of the town was up anyways."

The river levels were thought to be contained Saturday evening, Tycoles said. The RM said something must have been damaged upstream to cause flooding so quickly in Cromer.

The RMàalso spent Sunday morning sandbagging in Reston in attempts to keep flooding at a minimum.

"Almost all the roads throughout the RMàhave water flowing on or across them," Tycoles said.

Similar issues in the neighbouring RMàof Wallace caused a full road closure throughout the municipality over the weekend. Travel within the area was only advised in cases of emergency and the RMàstaff cautioned residents from driving through water over roads.

Tundra Place in Virden was set up as an evacuation centre for the RMàof Wallace.

The mayor of Virden was asking Sunday night for volunteers to help fill sandbags.

"There is water as high as the trampoline," said Olga Wasteste of Sioux Valley Dakota Nation. "My family is being evacuated and small vehicles cannot be driven because of the currents."

Sioux Valley evacuated residents on the north side of the Assiniboine River because of severe flooding issues.

 

-- Brandon Sun

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