Manitoba calls provincial emergency

A provincial state of emergency takes effect in Manitoba at noon Friday as municipalities along the Assiniboine River brace for flood levels above those seen in 2011.

Declaring a state of emergency allows the provincial government to “take action to prevent harm or damage to the safety, health or welfare of Manitobans, and to property and the environment,” the government said in a release.

Specifically, the state of emergency affects the RMs of Portage la Prairie, Cartier, St. François Xavier and Headingley and the city of Portage la Prairie, where the province has advised municipalities and property owners to prepared for “2011 levels plus one foot.”

“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,” Infrastructure Minister Steve Ashton said in the release.

Equipment and resources will be focused on areas of highest need to protect “critical infrastructure” as well as communities and homes, the province warned.

In the wake of several days of rainfall that led to overland flooding in both eastern Saskatchewan and western Manitoba, water levels “similar to or slightly higher than 2011” are now expected on the Assiniboine River downstream of Portage la Prairie within five to seven days.

The levels are expected to remain high for at least three weeks before slowly receding.

The province said Friday morning it has now also formally requested the assistance of the Canadian Forces to support flood-fighting work along Assiniboine River dikes.

Declaring the state of emergency is expected to allow emergency work — including production of about 500,000 sandbags — to reinforce dikes along the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg, and to raise dikes along the Portage Diversion.

The 29-km Portage Diversion, built in the late 1960s, diverts water from the Assiniboine, just west of Portage la Prairie, north into Lake Manitoba.

The province on Friday also announced it will set up a “unified command centre” near Portage la Prairie to liaise with affected communities.

“Considerable flood-fighting activity” is also underway further west, in Brandon and area, to deal with high river flows, the province noted.

Saskatchewan services

Also effective at noon on Friday, the Saskatchewan government has set up what it describes as a “regional flood recovery centre” at Horizon Credit Union Centre in Melville.

The recovery centre will be open to “all residents, small businesses, agricultural operations, community and nonprofit organizations that have experienced flooding issues,” the provincial government said in a release.

The facility, at 575 Second Ave. W., includes the southeastern city’s convention centre and hockey arena. Earlier this week the centre was used to house patients evacuated from the city’s hospital and long-term care facilities.

The regional flood recovery centre will include representatives from the province’s emergency management and building standards departments, as well as from the ministries of agriculture, health and social services and the Provincial Disaster Assistance Program (PDAP).

Agencies including the provincial Water Security Agency, SaskPower and the Canadian Red Cross will also be represented.

The flood recovery centre is to be open Friday until 9 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday (July 5-6) from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Crop losses

Based on reports from affected areas, Winnipeg grain marketing consultancy FarmLink Marketing Solutions on Wednesday revised its Prairie crop acreage estimates for the 2014 growing season.

FarmLink said it would subtract 800,000 acres of canola, 700,000 acres of wheat and 500,000 acres of peas and lentils combined from the seeded area forecasts Statistics Canada released last Friday.

In Saskatchewan, the company estimated up to 40 per cent of acres in the Moose Jaw and Watrous areas would be lost to excess moisture. In the Yorkton area, north of Melville, acreage losses were estimated at 25 per cent, along with losses of 20 per cent in the Moosomin and Tisdale areas and 10-15 per cent around Melfort.

In Manitoba, meanwhile, FarmLink estimated up to 25 per cent of acres would be lost in the Interlake region, between Lakes Winnipeg and Manitoba, and in the eastern region around Beausejour. Acreage losses of about 20 per cent were forecast for the Brandon and Boissevain areas in the province’s southwest.

“At this stage it will take another week or so before the losses of crops in standing water will become evident,” the company said in its report. — Network

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