BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
An aerial photo shows floodwaters in the Assiniboine River Valley northeast of Virden on Thursday.
The city has no intention to evacuate residents or businesses due to the rising Assiniboine River, but officials remain on high alert.
Floodwaters in the Assiniboine River Valley, northeast of Virden, reach the road level on Highway 259 on Thursday. (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
Brian Kayes, emergency co-ordinator with the City of Brandon, speaks during a flood update briefing at city hall. Officials are bracing for the river to crest in Brandon between July 10-12, but expect the water level will recede ‘fairly quickly.’ (BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN)
A general evacuation plan will be provided through door-to-door drops to the properties in the potentially affected areas north and south of the river — just in case.
"Just general information for people in those areas, so they understand that there is a plan, should something bad happen and we need to get people out of the area," said Brian Kayes, the city’s director of risk and emergency management.
Also as a precaution, a special evacuation route will be created behind the Corral Centre on Cater Drive. The fence will be opened to allow traffic to travel north if necessary.
"It’s only for emergency travel," Kayes said. "Again, just as an extreme precaution should that be necessary."
The river as of Thursday morning was measured at 1,175.93 feet above sea level, measured at First Street — up roughly six inches since the day before.
The projected peak, according to the province, is 1,182.5 to1,183.3feet. The historic flood of 2011 saw the river peak at 1,182.89 feet.
Kayes said with all the work that has been done, raising
the dikes and fortifying domestic sewer systems, he believes the city can handle the water that is coming Brandon’s way.
"The evacuations that took place (in 2011), for the people on the south side of the river, were the result of one of our manholes being flooded with river water and then stressing out the domestic sewer system," he said. "That whole system has been fortified now; we’re confident that that will not be an issue."
The other evacuations in 2011 were at the Corral Centre. Kayes said the problem was to do with sightseers coming near the super sandbag dike at Grand Valley Road. The city was concerned about a potential traffic accident compromising the sandbag dike so the businesses were closed for that reason.
"We were concerned about the safety of the dikes," he said. "We don’t anticipate that being a concern this year."
No super sandbags are needed at the intersection of 18th Street and Grand Valley Road, as there is now the earth dike to protect the area.
The 20 problematic manholes have been blocked, and 23 pumps have arrived in Brandon that will be set up by the weekend.
The city expects the Assiniboine River to crest between July 10-12. However, a provincial flood bulletin released late Thursday afternoon predicts the river will peak Sunday or Monday.
"We’re expecting this to be a short duration peak," Kayes said. "In other words, it probably comes up … a couple of days at that level, and then begins to recede fairly quickly."
Kayes said officials expect it to be short-lived because the high water is due to rain, not continued melt of ice and snow.
"This, of course, is dependent on the amount of rainfall we get in the next little while, so if we start getting rains again, the river is likely to stay up."
As the Brandon Sun reported Thursday, Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation will not be protecting First Street. A mutual decision between the city and province was made to concentrate efforts on 18th Street and Highway 110, due to the high cost and effort in attempting to protect First Street.
"It’s not like that permanent dike, there’s still risk in putting sandbags up, so we felt directing our attention to other areas made much more sense," city manager Scott Hildebrand said. "This high water event should be short-lived, so if we’re inconvenienced for two days, over spending upwards of hundreds of thousands of dollars, or millions of dollars, I think that’s a wise decision."
The city encourages homeowners in areas where flooding has been an issue in the past to move any valuables to higher ground as a precaution.
Brandon is one of 43 communities in Manitoba that have declared a state of local emergency.
» Twitter: @jillianaustin
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 4, 2014