tubedikes

The Manitoba government has invested in a store of tube dikes, like these at Royal Manitoba Yacht Club. The 15-metre-long tubes are filled with water and strung together or stacked. ((Bert Savard/CBC))

The Manitoba government has turned to technology to provide a rapid alternative to the slow, physically intensive practice of slinging sandbags to halt flooding.

The province has purchased five certified emergency response trailers (CERTs), each at $100,000. Every trailer contains about 60 tube dikes — 15-metre-long tubes that can be filled with water and strung together or stacked.

Each reusable tube — at a cost of about $1,600 — provides the same coverage as 500 sandbags and only takes about 10 minutes to fill with a high-pressure hose like that used by firefighters.

It could take an hour to fill a tube with a lower-pressure hose, but that is still quicker than a corps of volunteers could fill and stack the equivalent in sandbags, said Paul Vickers, president of International Flood Control.

They can also be filled with cement for a permanent dike, he added.

"It's an engineered product that demonstrates emergency rapid deployment. You can probably do more in an hour than it would take an army of guys sandbagging to do," he said.

In addition, there are not as many seams between the tubes as there are between sandbags, reducing the risk of breaches, he said.

The CERTs are currently on standby, awaiting deployment to areas of the province that will be most in need of them when the crest of the Red River arrives — where flash floods happen or where existing dikes are not sufficient.