NEWS
07/03/2011 02:47 EDT | Updated 09/02/2011 05:12 EDT

More Troops Deployed To Protect Manitoba Town From Flood

Province of Manitoba/CP

CBC -- An additional 175 Canadian Forces troops will be deployed in a desperate bid to protect the southwestern Manitoba town of Souris from flooding, officials said Sunday.

The town has already severed the town's historic suspension bridge, built in 1904, as river levels continue to rise.

About 200 Canadian Forces personnel are already helping the town build up its defences for the expected crest of the Souris River on Tuesday. Some dikes may have to be raised to a height of nearly four metres, according to officials.

Souris Mayor Darryl Jackson said he made the appeal for the military's help because the town, about 220 kilometres west of Winnipeg, is also threatened in the west by Plum Creek, which flows into the Souris and could spill its banks.

"We just were not going to have time to get those dikes armoured," Jackson told CBC News on Sunday morning. "The soldiers came in yesterday. They were put right to work there."

The river rose another 15 centimetres overnight, Jackson said, which forced health-care and fire officials to make arrangements in case the bridge needs to be closed.

"We have certainly been alerted to that possibility," he said. "Our doctors all live on this side of the river, not the hospital side, so I'm sure they're making plans for at least one of the doctors to be on site at the hospital when the water is close."

The surge on the river began when a rainstorm last month in Saskatchewan filled reservoirs to their capacity, forcing provincial officials to release the extra water through dams.

Flooding on the Souris River upstream in North Dakota has already damaged 4,000 homes, and farther upstream in Saskatchewan, much of the village of Roche Percee was inundated.