TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN
Wayne Isleifson with the City of Brandon disassembles one of the Waterfall of Lights displays at the skating oval to move it away from floodwaters from the Assiniboine River on Wednesday afternoon. The displays will be set up on the south side of the road.
Flooding conditions along the Assiniboine River are so bad that the RM of Cornwallis has officially declared a local state of emergency.
The flood situation has also forced City of Brandon officials to close the popular Waterfall of Lights attraction indefinitely.
Cornwallis made the declaration on Wednesday after recent snowfall and a drop in temperatures pushed the river level up by 10 cm over two days.
A state of emergency grants the municipality a number of special powers, including evacuation, if required, under the province's Emergency Measures Act.
Citizens are asked by the RM to ensure that they obey all laws, regulations and orders for the duration of the emergency, as well as co-operate with emergency response personnel.
The high water advisory issued Dec. 3 by Manitoba Water Stewardship remains in place for the Assiniboine River watershed from Shellmouth Reservoir to Headingley.
Communities in the Assiniboine Valley, especially in low-lying areas like Russell, St. Lazare, Millwood, Miniota and Brandon should maintain their watch for ice-related flooding, the water department warns.
Localized flooding is also likely in low-lying areas near the Little Saskatchewan and Souris rivers.
The risk of flooding has subsided around Russell and Miniota, but some of the larger tributaries like the Souris and Little Saskatchewan rivers will be monitored until freezing stabilizes, which depending on temperature changes, could take up to approximately two weeks.
Ice-jam-related flooding is expected to continue in the next few days with temperatures expected to remain between
-6 C and -25 C.
Meanwhile, it could be weeks before Brandonites can enjoy the Waterfall of Lights to its fullest.
The rising river has put the popular winter destination under water in some sections and has made it a risky place to be, City of Brandon acting parks and recreation department director Perry Roque told the Sun.
"We were right on track to open everything up Friday, but the river is rising and the skating oval has flooded with river water in some sections," Roque said.
"The remaining lights are still on, but the skating oval is closed indefinitely at this point."
City crews had been at work for weeks to get the site up to snuff in time for the holiday season, but when the water appeared they were forced to turn around and take at least 10 of its most at-risk and expensive light displays down yesterday.
"At this point, none of the displays were damaged ... some of the lights were in water this morning, so they've all been moved to higher ground," Roque said. "We want to maintain as much of the display as possible and we will be reassessing the site day by day."
The ski trail at the Wheat City Golf Course is also under water and its lights have been turned off indefinitely.
City crews will attempt to reroute the trail to higher ground as soon as possible.
The Waterfall of Lights is open to vehicle traffic, but city emergency co-ordinator Brian Kayes warns that it is dangerous to venture in the area by foot.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 9, 2010 A1