Media Bulletin - Manitoba

May 9, 2011

FLOOD BULLETIN #40



Flood Emergency Warning

  • There is a significant risk that uncontrolled dike breaches could occur along the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg.  An uncontrolled breach could affect the communities of St. Eustache, Elie, St. François Xavier, Poplar Point, High Bluff, Bernard, Fortier, Starbuck, Sanford and La Salle, as well as the surrounding areas.  An uncontrolled breach would be at an unpredictable location and could contain flows of upwards of 15,000 cubic feet per second (cfs).  An uncontrolled breach of the Assiniboine dikes could potentially affect an area of 500 square kilometres.
  • To address high flows and reduce the high possibility of an uncontrolled breach that would affect multiple communities and rural settlement areas, a controlled release of water along the Assiniboine dikes will be undertaken.
  • To help prevent the possibility of an uncontrolled breach, a controlled release of 2,000 to 6,000 cfs is necessary.  The release will be through the south side of the Assiniboine dikes and will flood lands within the La Salle watershed adjacent to the Elm River, the Elm River Channel, the Elm River Relief Channel, the Scott Coulee, the Scott Drain and the La Salle River downstream of the Elie dam and reservoir.  This controlled release is necessary to reduce the risk and severity of an uncontrolled breach of the dikes. 
  • Fewer than 150 residences will be affected by a controlled release, while 850 homes would be at risk in an uncontrolled breach.
  • The controlled release is necessary to reduce the risk and severity of an uncontrolled breach of the dikes and will be initiated as early as Wednesday, May 11.  The controlled release will affect a total area of 225 sq. km in the La Salle watershed east of Portage la Prairie and south of the Canadian National Railway main line in the RMs of Portage la Prairie and Cartier.  The level of the La Salle River in the RM of MacDonald, including the communities of Starbuck, Sanford and La Salle, will also significantly rise. 
  • Assistance will be available to help residents who may be affected by flooding caused by this controlled release.
  • Overtopping of the east and west dikes of the Portage Diversion Channel in the reach north of the Trans-Canada Highway could occur.  Dikes are being fortified between the diversion gates and the railway bridge located 1.6 km north of the Trans-Canada Highway.  Crews are also working on the embankments to increase the channel capacity to 31,000 cfs from 25,000 cfs.
  • Residents in the at-risk areas in the RMs of Portage la Prairie, Cartier, St. François Xavier and Headingley are on an evacuation notice and should prepare their final evacuation plans.  The city of Portage la Prairie is not included in this evacuation notice at this time.
  • Residents in the area expected to be flooded by overtopping of the Portage Diversion dikes have been put on evacuation alert and are to remain vigilant.

Assiniboine River Flood Response Plan

  • Unstable weather bringing significant rain to most of southern Manitoba and increasing flows on the Assiniboine River are presenting significant issues.
  • The Assiniboine River dikes between Portage la Prairie and Baie St. Paul will be vulnerable to high flows for the next two weeks.  Due to this vulnerability, uncontrolled breaches along Assiniboine River dikes may occur in the RMs of Portage la Prairie, Cartier, and St. Francois Xavier and may require evacuation.
  • The flows coming into the Portage reservoir are very high.  After reviewing five flood-risk scenarios, the current flood-management plan was selected as it will impact the least number of homes, cottages, businesses, infrastructure and agricultural lands.
  • Flows in the Portage Diversion will be increased to above design capacity to provide as much possible protection on the river downstream of Portage la Prairie.  Overtopping is expected on the east and west side of the Portage Diversion dikes north of Portage la Prairie.  Dikes are being fortified adjacent to Portage la Prairie to prevent flood waters from affecting the city. 
  • Downstream of the diversion on the Assiniboine River, a controlled release is planned near the Hoop and Holler Bend (between Southport and Newton) which will flood lands within the La Salle River Watershed in the following areas:
    • Elm River,
    • Elm River relief channel,
    • Scott Coulee,
    • Scott Drain, and
    • the La Salle River downstream of the Elie dam and reservoir. 
  • It is anticipated the above areas will be affected with floodwaters and residents are advised to make preparations for evacuation. 
  • Controlled releases prevent potentially more catastrophic breaches of dikes that would result in significant flooding of much larger populated areas.
  • Based on rainfall projections, it is anticipated that flows at the Portage reservoir will reach:
    • 43,000 cfs on May 9,
    • 47,000 cfs on May 10, and
    • 51,000 cfs on May 11. 
  • It is anticipated that dike releases will occur around May 11 or May 12 if flows cannot be managed on the Portage Diversion and on the Assiniboine River.
  • Areas that are expected to be flooded and that have a significant risk of flooding from a possible uncontrolled break are identified on maps prepared by Manitoba Water Stewardship and can be found at www.gov.mb.ca/waterstewardship/floodinfo/flood_2011.html.
  • Residents of the municipalities of Portage la Prairie, Cartier, St. Francois Xavier and Headingley should move key assets out of their homes or to higher levels of their homes.  Arrangements should be made for alternative accommodations.  Evacuation plans should include family identification, important legal documents, contact information for family and friends, essential medicines and personal-health items, supplies for babies and toddlers, mobile devices and chargers, extra clothing, waterproof outerwear and shoes, flashlights and a battery-powered radio. Manitobans who evacuate should register at a reception centre identified by the municipality they live in or register by phone by calling the Red Cross number at 1-888-662-3211.
  • At the request of the Manitoba government, Canadian Forces from Joint Task Force West under Canada Command are arriving to assist the government in its operation to manage flood-fighting efforts along the Assiniboine River.  Seven companies will be working to assist flood-fighting efforts along the Assiniboine River.
  • Residents along the Assiniboine River in the RMs of Cartier, St. François Xavier and Headingley are raising dikes by an additional two feet to accommodate high flows on the Assiniboine River caused by rain.
  • The Manitoba government has declared a provincial state of emergency to deal with the imminent threat of flooding along the Assiniboine River in the city of Portage la Prairie and the rural municipalities of Portage la Prairie, Woodlands, Rosser, St. François Xavier, Headingley, Cartier, Macdonald and Grey.  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.

Brandon

  • Approximately 25 to 40 Canadian Forces members from Brandon will be assisting with efforts to raise and reinforce dikes along First Street.
  • The City of Brandon has lifted a preliminary evacuation order for households in the low-lying area around Kirkcaldy Drive north of the Assiniboine River.  The evacuation continues for 450 households and businesses in an area south of the Assiniboine River known as ‘The Flats’.

For more information, see www.manitoba.ca/flooding.  The most up-to-date highway information is at www.gov.mb.ca/mit/roadinfo or 1-877-MBRoads (1-877-627-6237) and on Twitter by following @MBGov.

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Après la publication de chaque rapport sur les inondations, les renseignements sont mis à jour en français dès que possible. 

Pour les consulter, allez à www.gov.mb.ca/waterstewardship/floodinfo/forecasts_reports.html puis cliquez sur « Daily Flood Reports».