The City of Brandon has activated its emergency response following a "dramatic increase" in the projected peak level of the Assiniboine River.
The latest figures from the Manitoba Hydrologic Forecast Centre, forecast the river to peak at 1,180 feet to 1,181 feet above sea level between April 9 and 12. This is a few feet below the peak in 2014 (1,183.1 feet), and 2011 (1,182.89 feet). All river measurements refer to levels recorded at First Street.
The initial forecast was about three feet lower.
"It is a little bit of a surprise for sure, but we’ve got all of our plans in place and our people in place," said Brian Kayes, director of risk and emergency management.
The city’s emergency response control group met Friday afternoon to go over "all the eventualities" of what this updated forecast means. The response plan includes 24-hour surveillance of the city’s dike system, as well as the closure of Grand Valley Road (Provincial Highway 459).
Kayes expects the clay plug will be installed at Grand Valley Road over the weekend, likely today. The city urges all residents and motorists to be aware of this potential traffic congestion and plan accordingly. First Street will also be eventually closed, as water is expected to cross over the roadway.
As of Friday afternoon, the Assiniboine River level was measured at 1,174.95 feet. Brandon’s earthen dike system now sits at an elevation of 1,186 feet above sea level. This provides approximately three feet of free board above the highest level the city experienced during the summer flood of 2014.
"We have lots of capacity," Kayes said. "We’re well prepared for this."
Additional pumps have been put in place, and some storm sewer outfalls have been blocked in preparation.
"We’ve just ramped things up a little bit more based on the increase," Kayes said.
Residents of Assiniboine and Rosser wards are invited to a community meeting to be held today at 1:30 p.m. at the Riverbank Discovery Centre.
"It’s … to bring people up to speed on what we’re expecting and what we’re doing, so people can understand that we’re prepared and things are in place to manage whatever’s going to happen," Kayes said.
The city "strongly urges" the public to stay off the dike system — especially in the area of the water treatment plant on 26th Street.
"There is construction going on there ... but there’s also flood response activity that needs to take place," Kayes said. "We have had people inadvertently interfering with some of the things that we’ve been trying to do, so we’d really like them to stay out of there."
All public access into Dinsdale Park and Queen Elizabeth Park is strictly prohibited until further notice. Barricades are up in these areas and will be monitored.
Updated river levels are posted on the city’s website at intriverlevel.brandon.ca.
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