Rare province-wide state of emergency declared in Manitoba
Friday, July 4, 2014, 1:53 PM - Government officials have declared a rare province-wide state of emergency amid rising concerns over flood waters in the province of Manitoba.
"The Manitoba government is declaring a provincial state of emergency to take effect at noon today; requesting Canadian Forces support; and establishing a unified command centre near Portage la Prairie to assist with liaison efforts with the affected communities," a Friday statement on the provincial government's website reads.
EXTENDED ACTIVE WEATHER COVERAGE: Tune in to The Weather Network for live updates on the flood situation in Manitoba. Our team of reporters and meteorologists in the field provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date coverage.
"This will allow emergency work to reinforce the dikes along the Assiniboine River between Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg, and to raise the dikes along the Portage Diversion."
Premier Greg Selinger says the declaration will help officials to "take steps quickly" to protect residents and their property.
“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 and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton adds in a statement.
Manitoba is bracing for water flow levels between 48,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) and 52,000 cfs on the Assiniboine River downstream of Portage la Prairie.
The high water levels are expected within the next week and are forecast to remain high for a period of at least three weeks.
Crews are in the process of producing 500,000 sandbags to reinforce dikes in the Assiniboine.
More than 500 people have been evacuated in Manitoba this year due to flooding. Saskatchewan is also bracing for raising water levels, with 74 states of emergency currently in effect. Flood damages in the province are expected to exceed the $360 million in damages incurred during the 2011 floods.
SEVERE THUNDERSTORM RISK IN SOUTHERN MANITOBA
Heavy downpours from severe thunderstorms could exacerbate the flood situation in Manitoba.
Severe thunderstorm watches were issued Friday for parts of the province with Environment Canada warning of the potential for large hail and strong wind gusts.
Forecasters are reminding the public that all severe thunderstorms are capable of producing a tornado, although no tornado watches or warnings are currently in effect.