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Wheat City prepping for potential spring flooding

In this May 2011 photo, provincial highway crews work to shore up the super sandbag dike at the intersection of Grand Valley Road and 18th Street as the city prepares for higher floodwaters on the Assiniboine River. City of Brandon officials are keeping a close eye on the snowfall forecast in Westman as they prepare for any possible flooding this spring.

FILE PHOTO Enlarge Image

In this May 2011 photo, provincial highway crews work to shore up the super sandbag dike at the intersection of Grand Valley Road and 18th Street as the city prepares for higher floodwaters on the Assiniboine River. City of Brandon officials are keeping a close eye on the snowfall forecast in Westman as they prepare for any possible flooding this spring.

As springtime slowly inches closer, the City of Brandon is beginning to look ahead and prepare for any potential flooding.

In this May 2011 photo, firefighters with Manitoba Conservation pile sandbags in an effort to top up the southern dike near the Co-op Feed elevator in Brandon.

Enlarge Image

In this May 2011 photo, firefighters with Manitoba Conservation pile sandbags in an effort to top up the southern dike near the Co-op Feed elevator in Brandon. (FILE PHOTO)

Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said they are keeping a close eye on the snowfall forecast in Westman, as well as Saskatchewan.

"If we have a quick melt and it hits the river fast, it could cause some challenges," she said. "Obviously with this amount of snow, we are going to get some flooding, as we do every year … So much will depend on how quickly it melts in the spring."

Brian Kayes, the city’s directer of emergency management, said as it sits right now Brandon is looking at "normal" spring flood preparation.

"Right now we’re not expecting waters anywhere near the 2011 mark, that’s just kind of our sense right now," Kayes said.

"But having said that, we get ready for spring flooding every year, so we just make sure our plans are in place, we look at what changes may have taken place to the dikes, or to some of the outflows, what areas would need to be sandbagged, and just make sure that everybody’s up to speed on things."

In the spring of 2011, the City of Brandon declared a state of emergency, fighting what was a historic one-in-300-year flood.

A major difference between now and 2011, Decter Hirst said, is the fact that the ground is not saturated.

"So any melting that does occur, we’ve got lots of opportunity to absorb it and … that will be quite helpful," she said.

Work is being done on the Third Street Dam, while the Hilton Lift Station is functioning well.

"That was another one of our weak links," Decter Hirst said. "So what we’ve done is gone back and addressed any of the … vulnerabilities that we had."

Decter Hirst said the city is in "very good shape" when it comes to its disaster management plan.

"Following the flood, we went back and reviewed it and updated it and it’s even stronger than it was before," she said.

"We also have a community that’s very aware … We’ve got the technical capacity to withstand any flooding, we’ve got a community and organizational capacity that has been well tested, and so … now we’ll just keep an eye on what spring brings."

Kayes said there is ongoing engineering work being done in Brandon, where they are looking at adding pieces to the dikes as well as looking into plans related to the outflows, which are the pipes that catch rain water and take it back to the river.

"In a spring flood situation we have to block those off, so that the river doesn’t come up high enough and then back up into the streets," he said.

The Province of Manitoba is in the process of preparing the spring flood outlook, which will be released the last week of February.

"Recent snowfall and future precipitation amounts, along with other factors such as soil moisture content and water levels at freeze-up will be part of calculations used to produce a spring flood outlook," according to a provincial spokesperson.

» jaustin@brandonsun.com

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition February 5, 2013

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As springtime slowly inches closer, the City of Brandon is beginning to look ahead and prepare for any potential flooding.

Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said they are keeping a close eye on the snowfall forecast in Westman, as well as Saskatchewan.

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As springtime slowly inches closer, the City of Brandon is beginning to look ahead and prepare for any potential flooding.

Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said they are keeping a close eye on the snowfall forecast in Westman, as well as Saskatchewan.

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