The Assiniboine River is expected to peak as early as noon today — a week earlier than originally thought.
The city is now bracing for the river to reach or surpass 2011 flood levels.
"It’s happening a lot faster than we ever thought, but we’re ready," said Mayor Shari Decter Hirst during a media briefing at city hall late Friday afternoon.
The river had risen by two feet during the day yesterday, and is expected to rise another three feet by today. According to Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation, the Assiniboine River is expected to peak in Brandon at 1,182.7 to 1,183.1 feet above sea level. The 2011 peak was 1,182.89 feet.
Brian Kayes, the city’s director of risk and emergency management, said unfortunately the peak won’t be short-lived as officials were predicting.
Following the initial peak, they expect the water to recede slightly for a few days, peak again and then remain high for a few weeks.
"The river is likely to settle into a level of something around 1,181 perhaps for a week or two," Kayes said.
To put that into perspective, the city had to close First Street North early Friday when the level reached 1,179 feet.
"So we need to get the level down below that before we can regain access to that transportation system," Kayes said. "(We’re) looking at a more extended period in terms of having transportation woes in the city."
The province predicts the second crest will occur at Brandon around July 17.
In spite of the higher and earlier peak, Kayes said the city is still going to be ready.
"We have a couple more things we need to do, but certainly we’re heading in the right direction," he said.
To have this type of flood, due to rain water entirely, Kayes said, is a new experience for Manitoba.
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 today.The peak water flow during the 2011 flood was 36,730 cubic feet per second.
Traffic congestion was off the charts along 18th Street Friday, and the Brandon Police Service is urging people to access the city through either the west (Highway 1A through Kemnay) or east (Highway 110) entrances.
"The reality is, as long as construction is ongoing to deal with the diking and other requirements, traffic flow is going to be difficult on 18th Street," said Staff Sgt. Randy Lewis.
As for emergency services, BPS and the fire department have both set up satellite offices north of the river to ensure they can reach people in a timely fashion.
"We have members stationed on the north side of the river full time, and I’m confident that they will be able to respond to any emergencies on the north side of the river," he said.
"Essentially with First Street closed, our access is reduced due to the traffic congestion on 18th Street now, we’ve made a plan … to overcome that barrier."
Pre-evacuation notices were to be delivered Friday evening and Saturday 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.
In the event evacuation is necessary, the city will broadcast a notice through the alerting siren, media, its website and door-to-door visitations.
"No need to be alarmed, this is merely to get you good, accurate information so that you can be ready to look after your home and your family the same way that we’re looking after the city," Decter Hirst said. "We’ll all work together, we’re going to get through this."
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