WINNIPEG — The province will once again make a controlled breach at the Hoop and Holler Bend east of Portage la Prairie to deal with more water than expected flowing even sooner down the Assiniboine River.
The province made a similar breach during the height of the 2011 flood to reduce the threat of an uncontrolled breach elsewhere along the Assiniboine River.
Equipment will start moving into place today and soldiers from CFB Shilo will begin fanning out to sandbag about 150 homes near the bend before the cut is made as early as Monday.
At the same time, the military will also begin work reinforcing any weak spots along dikes running along the Assiniboine River from Portage east to St. François Xavier.
Word of the controlled breach comes hours after the Manitoba government declared a provincial state of emergency to help protect homes and fortify dikes along the Assiniboine River east of Portage as water levels rise to 2011 levels.
Premier Greg Selinger said on Friday he spoke to Prime Minister Stephen Harper Thursday and has requested the aid of the Canadian military. Armed forces personnel are expected to begin arriving in the next 24 hours to assist with sandbagging and to shore up dikes.
Some 200 homes east of Portage are said to be at risk of flooding.
A command centre near Portage is being established to liaise with affected communities.
Selinger said if there is any silver lining in the coming days, it’s that much of southern Manitoba went through the same flood flight in 2011 when the Assiniboine Valley was inundated with water.
“The good news is that people know what they’re doing,” he said. “They’ve been through this, unfortunately, three years ago.”
Military officials are already working at the province’s flood centre to determine how many soldiers are required and what bases they will come from in Western Canada.
The state of emergency affects the city of Portage la Prairie and the rural municipalities of Portage, Cartier, St. François Xavier and Headingley. The province will assist municipalities and property owners who are advised to prepare for 2011 levels plus one foot.
A state of emergency allows the province to take action to prevent harm or damage to the safety, health or welfare of Manitobans, and to property and the environment.
Levels similar to or slightly higher than 2011 are expected on the Assiniboine River downstream of Portage. The province is readying both the Portage Diversion channel and the lower Assiniboine River dikes to manage these peak flows.
Actions being taken starting today include producing 500,000 sandbags to support efforts to reinforce the Assiniboine dikes.
STARS will be used to respond to medical emergencies in the flood zone and will resume inter-facility transfers to support flood operations.
The ability of the province to declare a provincial state of emergency was one of the recommendations of the report from the 2011 flood, along with setting up a regional unified command centre.
» Winnipeg Free Press