A chart of Assiniboine River levels measured at First Street using information from the City of Brandon Open Data. (GRANT HAMILTON/BRANDON SUN)
The swollen Assiniboine River spills over its banks at 18th Street on Sunday, when the river crested. But readings Monday morning showed water levels were down almost half a foot. (TIM SMITH/THE CANADIAN PRESS)
The worst appears to have come and gone in Brandon as the river level has started to recede.
City readings taken at 7:30 a.m. Monday show river levels at 1,182.18 feet above sea level — down almost half a foot since Sunday’s crest. As measured at First Street, 1,182.69 was the highest level the city measured, at about 10:30 a.m. on Sunday.
However, city officials warned we’re not out of danger yet.
"We are only halfway through this flood," Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said. "We do not want to relax our vigilance yet."
The city had its last regularly scheduled briefing Monday at 10 a.m. to update people on the ongoing flood fight.
The city’s emergency co-ordinator, Brian Kayes, said they will only have future briefings as necessary.
A second crest is expected around July 17, slightly lower than the first. This is the best estimate the province can make at this time due to the Qu’Appelle River rising above the measuring capacity of its gauge.
A new gauge is expected to be in place today, and provincial officials will continue to update the crest forecast as they receive that data.
"But it will still be a significant rise in the river," Kayes said.
The City of Brandon and the province agree that Brandon has taken proper measures to prevent extreme flooding.
"I think Brandon is often considered the poster-child for preparedness," Decter Hirst said. "The prime minister was really able to see the result of efforts made after the 2011 floods."
Prime Minister Stephen Harper arrived in Brandon at noon Sunday and took a helicopter tour with Premier Greg Selinger and local MPs of the flood damage to roads and farmland.
Approximately $27 million has been invested in flood-related efforts to prepare Brandon for future flooding since 2011, Decter Hirst said.
"It makes more sense to make these upfront investments and prevent toil on everyone affected," she said. "It is clear this is no longer a one-in-300-year flood — it’s a one-in-three-year flood."
Brandon police Sgt. Larry Yanick said that there have been only a few problems in and around the dikes. He thanked motorists for finding alternate routes in and out of the city, keeping 18th Street traffic flowing well.
He also said that three experienced kayakers who had entered the city on the Assiniboine River after coming off the Little Saskatchewan River had decided to leave the river at 18th Street.
"They thought it was too dangerous," Yanick said.
He also said that police had warned off a group of youth with an inflatable raft along Kirkcaldy Drive, and a family that was attempting to catch frogs in the floodwater.
"And we will continue to charge people if they are caught in a no-trespassing area," Yanick said.
Kayes and Decter Hirst both thanked the public for their co-operation to make the ongoing flood work run smoothly. The co-operation will be necessary until the river has returned to normal levels, they said.
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Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition July 8, 2014