Storm forecast has soggy Brandon bracing for more flooding

Brandon is bracing for more flooding, with looming thunderstorms in the forecast and the unpredictable Assiniboine River running through the area.

Rapidly rising water levels and dangerous speeds on Assiniboine River worry city

Brandon and parts of southwest Manitoba that were inundated by heavy rains are preparing for another round of bad weather. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

It could be another wet and hectic 24 hours in Brandon: The city's emergency response team is readying for potentially more flooding.

People in southwestern Manitoba are keeping an eye to the sky as more thunderstorms threaten to pile more rain on to the massive dump in the area on Sunday. Meanwhile, crews in sopping-wet Brandon are closely monitoring the Assiniboine River.

In a news release on Tuesday, the city said significant rainfall in the area on Sunday has caused the river levels to rise two feet in a 24 hour-period.

"We're concerned enough that we're paying attention to what's going on, and we certainly want to be ready to react, depending on what the situation presents us," said Brian Kayes, the city's emergency response coordinator.

In an interview on CBC's Up To Speed, Kayes told host Ismaila Alfa that the city's emergency response control group is trying to mitigate the impact by readying for what may happen later on Tuesday.

The Brandon Regional Health Centre and Brandon Municipal Airport, as well as lots of homes and businesses, are already reeling from flooding and sewer back ups on Sunday.

Kayes said overflowing culverts have damaged water piping and washed out roads, and crews are pumping water in hopes of lowering retention ponds to make space for another torrential downpour.

Waterlogged city

Residents and visitors are being asked by the city to keep away from the river and stay off the dike infrastructure at this time due to the unpredictable conditions that could lead to rapidly rising river levels and dangerously high river speeds.

The city's release is cautioning of a "high likelihood" that low-lying places along its banks will see overland flooding.

But Kayes believes the city remains in a reasonably good position to keep the water moving, and the dike should hold up to very significant measures.

"It would have to be a monster rainstorm that would cause us grief in that regard," he said.

Kayes said the river level needs to rise another 16 feet in order to breach that added layer of protection.

Minister tours region

Manitoba Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler toured Brandon and surrounding communities on Tuesday.

"I think right now our major concern is what's going to happen tonight," he told CBC News in Minnedosa, Man. "We're very concerned about extra water coming. 

Schuler says five trailers of equipment have been brought to the region from Winnipeg in the event more flood protection is needed. 

"We're proactively coming in with a lot of equipment," Schuler said. 

Brandon and parts of southwest Manitoba were drenched with heavy rain and severe thunderstorms on Sunday, June 28, 2020. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Crews are also preparing to build on certain portions of the dike in Brandon, which was enhanced in 2011, and construction projects are still underway, as necessary, to contain rising waters.

"It's got a ways to go, for sure," he said.

"We're quite confident that the dike is up to the task."

Pumps are in place in areas where draining could be needed and preliminary plans are in the works in case the situation escalates, and the city needs to close the dike opening at the intersection of 18th Street North and Grand Valley Road.

The city's operations teams are still responding to outstanding issues of standing water and fallen trees following Sunday's storm.

WATCH | City of Brandon under water:

Parts of western Manitoba, including the city of Brandon, Man. will be assessing the damage from a series of thunderstorms that brought torrential rain and hail, while flooding streets and highways. 0:53

Residents are being asked to help crews out by moving traffic obstacles such as limbs and branches off of the roads, if safe to do so, until crews arrive, the release said.

If needed, residents can pick up empty sandbags and sand at the Civic Services Complex at 900 Richmond Avenue East on a first-come, first-served, fill-your-own-bag basis, Monday to Friday between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

People who are dealing with or at risk of experiencing flooding in their homes can pick up cleanup kits provided by the Canadian Red Cross at Brandon City Hall on weekdays between 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The kits contain an anti-mould cleaning product, mop, rags, rubber gloves, and a face mask.

The release says sand-bagging supplies and cleanup kits will be not be available on July 1 because the services will be closed for Canada Day.

With files from Bartley Kives


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.