The Manitoba government is declaring a provincial state of emergency to take effect at noon today; requesting Canadian Forces support; and establishing a unified command centre near Portage la Prairie to assist with liaison efforts with the affected communities, Premier Greg Selinger announced today.
This will allow emergency work to reinforce the dikes along the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg, and to raise the dikes along the Portage Diversion.
In addition the Manitoba government has formally requested the assistance of the Canadian Forces to support these flood-fighting efforts along the Assiniboine River dikes.
“We need to be able to take action to protect the safety, health and welfare of Manitobans,” said Premier Selinger. “Declaring a provincial state of emergency will allow us to take steps quickly to protect people and property in the area.”
The state of emergency affects the city of Portage la Prairie and the rural municipalities of Portage la Prairie, 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.
“We need to prepare for significant and sustained flows down the Assiniboine River after the heavy rain storms last weekend and forecasted additional rainfall this weekend,” said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.
Levels similar to or slightly higher than 2011 are expected on the Assiniboine River downstream of Portage la Prairie. High water levels are expected within five to seven days and will remain high for at least three weeks before slowly receding. Forecast flow levels are expected to be between 48,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 52,000 cfs.
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 today to support flood operations.
Municipalities have already started flood-fighting preparations. Residents are advised to contact their municipality for assistance and information. Residents are advised that equipment and resources will be focused on areas of highest need to protect critical infrastructure, communities and homes.
There will be considerable activity along the dikes and diversion. Residents are advised to be cautious and watch for heavy equipment moving in the areas around the dikes.
In addition, there is considerable flood-fighting activity underway in Brandon and the area to address high river flows. Recent flood protection projects in Brandon, including the 18th Street Bridge, are supporting this year’s response. Residents are advised to be cautious and watch for heavy equipment moving in the area.
There is already a provincial state of emergency in place to allow for the work on the Lake St. Martin Channel to Lake Winnipeg. Water is already flowing through the channel as crews work to full open the channel.
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.