This image released by the province show the location of the controlled release and the size of the planned cut to be made at the Hoop and Holler Bend.
WINNIPEG -- Manitoba flood officials have postponed plans to cut a dike along the Assiniboine River that had been scheduled for this morning.
This image released by the province show the location of the controlled release and the size of the planned cut to be made at the Hoop and Holler Bend. (SUBMITTED)
An aerial photo taken Wednesday shows the Assiniboine River and the Hoop and Holler Bend, where the province plans to create a controlled breach at some point this week. (THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The cut at Provincial Road 331, at a stretch of road known as the Hoop and Holler Bend southeast of Portage la Prairie, is intended to allow part of the swollen Assiniboine River's flow into the Elm River and onto the La Salle River watershed.
It's intended to prevent an uncontrolled breach elsewhere along the river that could otherwise flood 500 square kilometres and 850 homes.
While the cut and controlled release have been delayed, it's a matter of when -- not if -- it will happen, Steve Topping, the province's chief flood fighter, said Wednesday.
"We believe we fully have to operate," Topping said, noting the controlled release is expected to slowly flood up to 225 square kilometres of land over the next several days.
The province said it believes the cut could flood about 150 homes instead of the 850 feared at risk with an "uncontrolled" breach of the dike.
More than 500 homes in the rural municipalities of Portage la Prairie and Macdonald have also received voluntary evacuation orders or warnings.
Some 1,000 Armed Forces personnel are now deployed along the Assiniboine River to help fight the flood. Some are in Brandon, while others are working to protect homes that could be flooded near the Portage Diversion or downstream from the controlled-release site.
Still others are fortifying dikes along the Assiniboine east of Portage la Prairie.
Flood officials emphasized that once water is released from the cut at Hoop and Holler Bend, it will not flow in a torrent.
They said it could take several days for the water to disperse over the area that is expected to be affected.
That will give municipalities plenty of time to notify residents -- already on evacuation alert -- that they will have to leave their homes.
If a serious problem that could cause a breach of the dike occurs at any time before this morning, the controlled-release time could be moved up, officials said Wednesday.
If this happens, notification will be provided as soon as possible, but officials say residents should be prepared to leave on short notice.
» Winnipeg Free Press
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition May 12, 2011 A5