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Published March 15, 2011, 05:54 PM

Manitoba Preparing Early For 2011 Flood Season

With 2009 levels projected for the area of Winnipeg and south to the border, the province has already invested $20 million in sandbags, new equipment and other flood fighting materials.

It's going to be a busy flood season in Manitoba, with rivers forecast to hit records levels.

"We're fighting this flood on numerous fronts: the Winnipeg River, the Saskatchewan River, the Assiniboine River, the Red River and the whole Lake Manitoba Basin. They are all charged and we could have record floods on all those rivers," said Manitoba Water Stewardship Executive Director Steve Topping.

With 2009 levels projected for the area of Winnipeg and south to the border, the province has already invested $20 million in sandbags, new equipment and other flood fighting materials.

"We are very much ahead this year. We know what was coming at us quite awhile ago, so we put the processes we normally do every year, we put those in motion two months earlier then we normally do," said Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization's Executive Director Chuck Sanderson.

Provincial flood officials say three flood outlets and ice jam prevention measures mean the city of Winnipeg is safe.

"We have three ice breakers called Amphibexs. They break ice in a channel of the river for Selkirk all the way north to Lake Winnipeg. It's about 28 kilometers of ice breaking," said Topping.

But outside of the city, the provincial government of Manitoba has spent nearly a billion dollars to save cities and homes.

"Outside the city of Winnipeg, we have done a substantial amount of work raising homes on pads or putting ring dikes up around farm yards or relocating them into non-flood prone areas like a community ring dike 1,780 homes South of Winnipeg protected to to the 1997 + 2 flood level," said Topping.

Cities outside Winnipeg are more worried about overland flooding closing down highways. But for now, the Province is keeping a close eye on river levels.

"We monitor those levels 24/7 those levels are always being monitored and being updated daily and that information is passed down to the municipalities to the emergency coordinators all the way down the river and all over the province," said Sanderson.

At the worst, Manitoba is preparing for 1997 flood levels.

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