No homes affected yet by controlled Manitoba flood
The controlled breach of a flood dike in Manitoba is going better than officials could have hoped for, as no homes were flooded as of Monday night.
The planned flood southeast of Portage La Prairie began to unfold on Saturday morning after officials intentionally breached a dike, putting an estimated 150 homes at risk.
As of early Monday evening, three houses were surrounded by water, but none were flooded.
Dry, sunny weather is helping the fight against the flood, as the government downgraded the rate at which it plans to pump water from the deliberate dike breach. The swollen Assiniboine River water will then be diverted to the La Salle River.
"(The change) will reduce the area in which the water will spread and will increase the time it will take to reach the La Salle River," Steve Topping, an executive director with the province's Water Stewardship department, said Monday.
The water has only spread 2.1 kilometres since Saturday. It's moving so slowly, the water is not expected to make its way into the La Salle River for at least a week.
But the government said the water could be trouble for weeks to come.
"We have made significant progress ... but by no means are we done with this yet," said Infrastructure Minister Steve Ashton.
The controlled flood was intended to protect hundreds of homes that would be at risk if the river breached its banks and became uncontrollable, Premier Greg Selinger told CTV News.
Selinger said the province is implementing a special compensation program that will cover property damage, income losses and recovery costs for those affected by the controlled flood.
He also said the province has spent $70 million to date on flood mitigation measures, a figure that could rise to as much as $200 million by the time the flood season is over.
Doug Connery, owner of Connery's Riverdale Farms near Hoop and Holler Bend, where the dike was breached, said many farmers in the area are still facing an uncertain future and lack answers from the government.
Connery said he is attempting to plan for the season ahead and get seeds in the ground for crops such as carrots, strawberries and broccoli.
But he and other area farmers simply don't know whether their land will be under water in the coming days.
"We're trying to farm today," he told CTV's Canada AM on Monday.
"If we don't farm, those weeks that our product would be available for selling to the consumer -- we won't have that. And we don't know if we're going to get coverage for loss of income and if we do farm and then it gets flooded a week down the road, we don't know if we're going to get compensated for that."
Connery said there are more questions than answers, and he's struggling to decide how to move forward. At a cost of $1,500 to seed an acre of land -- planting now is a risky gamble. However, if Connery doesn't seed now, he won't have work for his staff later in the summer.
"We're not getting much information for making any kind of management decision," he said.
On Sunday, more than 24 hours after the controlled breach, the water had spread only 3.2 kilometres to the south and 1.6 kilometres to the east.
About 150 people in the region have been evacuated.
"It's like in a scary movie when they play that suspension (music) and you know something's coming but you don't know what it is," Shea Doherty told The Canadian Press from his family's farm near the Hoop and Holler bend, where the controlled breach took place.
"It's like you started to see faint blue along the trees a mile and a half away, and then you started seeing it get larger and larger, and it's like, `it's coming'."
Doherty said the water should make it to his property by Monday morning, but no one has given him an official estimate.
Selinger said he expects the Assiniboine to crest sometime this week -- at which time the risk will subside somewhat.
"We anticipate it will crest this week, perhaps in the next couple of days," Selinger said.
"We do expect the water to stay high for an extended period of time but when once we get over the crest, then it gets predictable after that."