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Updated: Fri, 04 Jul 2014 13:18:08 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Manitoba flooding: Province declares state of emergency



Optimist Soccer Park in Brandon has been closed due to overland flooding. John Woods/Canadian Press

Optimist Soccer Park in Brandon has been closed due to overland flooding. John Woods/Canadian Press

Manitoba has declared a provincial state of emergency due to flooding and called in the military for assistance.

The Canadian Forces has been asked to be on the ground and operational by Saturday, provincial officials said at a news conference Friday.

"We need to be able to take action to protect the safety, health and welfare of Manitobans," said Premier Greg Selinger.

"Declaring a provincial state of emergency will allow us to take steps quickly to protect people and property in the area."

Canadian Forces personnel will work to reinforce the dikes along the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg, where 200 homes are at risk.

They will also help raise the dikes along the Portage Diversion — a 29-kilometre channel that directs some of the flood water from the Assiniboine north to Lake Manitoba.

The regional municipalities of Portage la Prairie, Cartier, St. Francois Xavier and Headingley are the biggest areas of concern. They are being advised to prepare for flood levels more than 30 centimetres higher than those of 2011.

A command centre is being established near Portage la Prairie to assist with liaison efforts between the military and the affected communities, Selinger said.

The crest of flood waters from Saskatchewan is expected to reach Brandon this weekend and Portage la Prairie by July 11.

Flooding in various areas has forced many people from their homes, and led to local regional states of emergency before a provincewide state of emergency was called.

Selinger said the province will work to produce half a million sandbags to protect the areas most at risk.

"The good news is people know what they are doing. We've been through this before," he said.

"We need to prepare for significant and sustained flows down the Assiniboine River after the heavy rainstorms last weekend and forecasted additional rainfall this weekend," said Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.

Environment Canada is calling for a risk of a severe thunderstorm Friday evening in the Brandon area and another thunderstorm on Saturday evening. Rain is also in the forecast for Monday.

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