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Heavy rains worsen flood conditions in Western Manitoba

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The full impact of Tuesday’s wind and rain storm has renewed flood worries in western Manitoba, Emergency Measures Minister Steve Ashton said in the legislature today.

Ashton said in western Manitoba four to six inches of rain fell, flooding roads and closing schools.

Combined with high winds, the storm played havoc with homes and cottages on Lake Manitoba.

He also said the Souris and Assiniboine Rivers will rise "several feet" because of the heavy rains.

"The full impacts of what these rains will mean for water levels are being assessed as quickly as possible," Ashton said. "The storm also battered Lake Manitoba with gale force winds, flooding many properties and washing over many access roads."

Hundreds of people were evacuated Tuesday from communities on Lake Manitoba because of the storm.

"The full impacts of yesterday’s  storm are not fully known, but we do know that this event was devastating for many," Ashton said.

Many of those evacuated and who live along Lake Manitoba blame the province for artificially flooding the lake through the Portage Diversion, which funnels flood water from the Assiniboine into the lake. However, the province has said high flows from the Waterhen and Whitemud Rivers also contributed to high water levels. The lake is expected it crest in mid-June at a level equally to what was experienced in 1955 before the province started regulating its level in the early 1960s.

"This is a huge news story and will continue to be devastating for all communities around the lake for many months to come until our government-sanctioned flooding of this body of water even begins to recede to safer levels," Twin Lakes Beach cottager Bill Nichol said in an email.

The province said last week it will cover 90 per cent of flood damage costs or flood-protection measures up to $90,000 for damages to cottages, and up to $200,000 for damages to the structure and contents of permanent residences.

It will also pay up to 90 per cent of the cost of moving or raising homes and cottages in the flood inundation zone around Lake Manitoba to a maximum of $20,000 per property. The province will cover 90 per cent of the cost up to $2,000 of engineering advice for emergency or short-term flood-mitigation works around dwellings on Lake Manitoba.

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