Manitoba flooding: Assiniboine River to crest in Brandon

The Assiniboine River was expected to crest in Brandon, Man., 12 hours later than previously expected, possibly spilling more water onto a city that has been dealing with overland flooding this week.

Crews prepare to cut dike at Hoop and Holler Bend to ease pressure on Assiniboine River

Officials estimate river will crest Saturday in Brandon, Man., as workers prepare to breach a dike holding back floodwaters at Hoop and Holler Bend 1:25

The western Manitoba city of Brandon is gearing up for the rising Assiniboine River to crest.

Provincial government officials predicted the cresting would happen at midnight Saturday night CT, 12 hours later than the previous prediction of noon CT.

The river crest could potentially spill more water onto a city that has been dealing with overland flooding this week.

Between 2,000 and 2,500 residents near the river started receiving pre-evacuation notices on Friday evening.

However, no immediate evacuations were planned as of Saturday. The notices are intended to prepare people in case an evacuation is called.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced he will travel to Manitoba Sunday to tour the flood zone. 

A stop sign sticks out of floodwaters in Brandon, Man., on Friday. The Assiniboine River is expected to crest in the western Manitoba city around midday on Saturday. (CBC)
City of Brandon officials said crews were adding clay to a low spot on the south dike.

Meanwhile, residents in the potential evacuation zone were asked to make arrangements to stay with friends and family.

"Everyone in the city is part of the response team, and one of the roles that you can play in the potential evacuated areas is to take a few moments to think about where you might stay," Mayor Shari Decter Hirst said Saturday.

The Assiniboine River is expected to recede slightly after the upcoming crest, then peak again on July 17, according to the province.

Parts of Brandon are already underwater as a result of torrential rainfall that saturated eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba last weekend.

Susan McGregor, who grew up in Brandon, said she has never seen water levels so high.

"We have neighbours that have been [in Brandon] 45 years and have never ever had their basement flooded," she said Saturday.

Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger declared a provincewide state of emergency on Friday and asked the federal government to have Canadian Armed Forces soldiers on the ground to assist with flood relief efforts.

About 100 soldiers from CFB Shilo were seen arriving near Portage la Prairie, Man., on Saturday morning, the CBC's Ryan Hicks reported.

Farmers Lourens Arendse, left, and Jim Williams stand in front of fields that are expected to be flooded by the Assiniboine River when the Manitoba government cuts a road dike at the Hoop and Holler Bend next week. (Tyson Koschik/CBC)
Provincial officials said the river is flowing at a faster rate and a higher crest is expected than previously anticipated.

The government plans to ease the flood threat along the Assiniboine by making a controlled cut in the Hoop and Holler Bend.

Crews will start preparing the site on Saturday, with the actual breach to take place on Monday or Tuesday.

Hoop and Holler, which is a bend in the river, is the same location that was intentionally breached during the spring flood of 2011.

Back then, excavators cut through a roadway that had doubled as a dike, allowing floodwaters from the river to spill onto nearby farmland.

But those who farm near the Hoop and Holler Bend say they're angry their land and crops are being sacrificed again.

As was the case in 2011, flood officials said they are concerned that if they don't create a controlled breach, other dikes along the river's path could collapse.

Fifty municipalities and communities across Manitoba, mainly in the southwest and Interlake regions, have declared a state of local emergency since June 28.

At least 920 Manitobans have had to leave their homes due to flooding so far in 2014, including about 160 evacuees from two communities during floods this past spring.