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2009 flooding will be second-worst in 100 years: province

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Provincial flood forecasters said this afternoon that this year’s Red River flood — at least in the area from St. Jean Baptiste to the floodway inlet — is now projected to be the second-greatest since the floods of the 1880s.

The predicted crest in Winnipeg on Saturday has been raised to 22.6 feet, relative to the normal winter river ice level at James Avenue -- only two feet below that of the 1997 Flood of the Century. The normal summer water level at James Avenue is usually about seven feet.

Only yesterday, the province had said that this year’s Red River flood would go down as the third-worst in 100 years.

But senior flood forecaster Alf Warkentin said today that a combination of factors has led the province to revise its forecast, including an exceptionally broad crest at Emerson and higher flows from Red River tributaries, including the Assiniboine River.

Meanwhile, more homes are being evacuated and more roads are becoming impassable in southern Manitoba, thanks to overland flooding and rising rivers, the province says in its latest update.

Close to 170 residents of Peguis First Nation have been relocated to Winnipeg, as the rising Fisher River floods basements and crawl spaces. About 50 homes on the reserve are flooded after sandbag dikes breached.

The First Nation declared a state of emergency late Tuesday in response to the threat of flood waters.

Manitoba Native Fire Fighters, along with 400 people, are continuing to sandbag and build up breached dikes in an effort to protect homes and buildings in the community.

Fisher River First Nation evacuated nine people from its personal-care home, and residents of approximately 10 homes around Rock Lake have decided to voluntarily leave their homes. Three homes have been evacuated from the Boundary Creek/Winnipeg Beach area.

The rising Assiniboine River and ice is affecting four homes in Headingley, two homes in St. François Xavier and 15 homes in the Lido Plage Road area. Ten homes are at risk in Elie from the LaSalle River. Sandbagging efforts are underway.

In areas affected by the ice jam north of Selkirk, most residents have returned to their homes. The RM of St. Andrews is continuing a mandatory evacuation order in place for properties north of 1621 Breezy Point Rd.



Sandbags are being sent to the Brokenhead First Nation where 11 houses have water in their basements and water is overtopping roads because of an ice jam at a nearby rail bridge which is causing water to rise. Evacuations may be necessary if water continues to rise.

All evacuees are strongly urged to register with the Red Cross registration phone line at 1-888-662-3211, which operates 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. This will help connect people with their municipalities and other information about the flood.

A sandbag machine is going to the St. Adolphe arena to assist with sandbagging of homes south of St. Adolphe along PR 200. Volunteers will have to come down Hwy 75, turn east on PR 210 and cross over the river into St. Adolphe. Hwy 75 is local access only but not barricaded south of Winnipeg.

One home, 10 cottages and a number of local roads have been affected by flooding caused by an ice jam at Rock Lake.
Ice jams caused waters to rise overnight in Arborg but levels were reportedly staying constant today and diking is underway.

At Grande Pointe, flood-proofing measures are underway at the floodway outlet west of Hwy 59 and pumps are also being set up as a precautionary measure.

The Icelandic River near Riverton is experiencing ice jams which are affecting the town. No homes or property are yet affected.

Melita has started diking to raise its primary dike and super sandbags are being installed along Highway 3. Additional super sandbags are being sent to Melita today.

Highway 3 at Brunkild is one-lane traffic because a dike is being constructed on the road and there is water on the shoulder.

It is restricted to local traffic only and there may be short delays.

The alternate route detour for Highway 75 has been changed and is now Hwy. 2 to Hwy 13 to Hwy 3 to Hwy 14.

At Ste. Agathe, a one-kilometre dike closure along the river will be completed today or tomorrow.

Ring dike levels in the valley have been raised at Emerson, Letellier, St. Jean Baptiste, Morris, St. Adolphe, Dominion City and Ste. Agathe. Partial ring dike closures are also complete at Rosenort, Aubigny and Riverside. The valley ring dikes are being carefully monitored and assessed on an ongoing basis.

There is significant overland flooding across the Interlake affecting roads and crossings through out the area. There are a number of roads washed out in the province.

The province has 37 steamers working to thaw frozen culverts and drains across southern Manitoba.

Three Flood Liaison Offices are open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. in Winnipeg (945-2354), Morris (204-746-7325) and Brandon (204-729-1220).

The province is warning motorists that frozen culverts and drains are causing flooding in locations that have never experienced flooding before. Manitobans are advised to watch for rapidly rising water conditions.

If motorists encounter rapidly moving water, they should not try to drive through and should stay in their vehicle.

Closed barricade signs must be respected and motorists are advised to drive with extreme caution. There have been reports of road barricades being moved in the Red River Valley. Closed barricades on roads should not be moved under any circumstance.

Road conditions are changing quickly. Check highway conditions before travelling at or call 204-945-3704 or 1-877-627-6237.

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