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Strong winds test Manitoba flood defences, cut power

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Wind storms have wreaked havoc this weekend, putting flood emergency workers on alert and keeping hydro crews busy restoring power to thousands of customers.

Manitoba Hydro crews were kept busy until late Saturday evening after winds storms toppled trees and knocked out power to 6,000 households in Winnipeg and thousands more across the province.

Provincial emergency workers monitored flood defences as the province issued a wind warning for the second day in a row.

"The Manitoba government advises wind warnings are in place for today, tonight and tomorrow for the south basin of Lake Winnipeg and the southern shorelines of Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipegosis, Lake of the Woods and Dauphin Lake," the province said in its daily flood bulletin Sunday.

That high lake wind warning remains in effect until Monday for the south shoreline of Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba, a moderate-high lake wind effect warning for the south shorelines of Lake Winnipegosis and the South Basin of Lake Winnipeg.

A moderate lake wind effect warning was issued through Monday as well for the south shoreline of Dauphin Lake and the east shoreline of Oak Lake.

The wind knocked down trees that toppled hydro poles and sparked fires in transformers from one end of the province to another.

Winnipeg was hit hard but it was also easier to restore power to hydro customers in the city.

"The storm that rolled through the city about 4 p.m. caused outages for 6,000 customers. Most were restored by about 7 p.m." Manitoba Hydro spokeswoman Andrea Gruber said Sunday.

Sporadic outages followed across the city with repair crews working until 11 p.m. when most customers had power back on.

The swath of wind damage was widespread. The hardest hit areas were North Kildonan near Chief Peguis Trail, South Osborne and St. Boniface by Southdale and River Park South. The other area hard hit by outages was West Broadway by Misericordia Health Centre. Power stayed on at Misericordia.

Outside the city, the wind damage was tougher to track and more difficult to restore because hundreds of individual cottages and homes lost power. Restoring electricity sent crews to work in inaccessible areas, including swamps.

In some cases, crews had to reach areas by water, Gruber said.

"There was significant damage all across the province," the spokeswoman said. "By mid-evening, most of them were back on."

On the Assiniboine River, meanwhile, flood protection in Brandon is holding. The province said the river crest should start to decline Monday.

At the Portage Diversion, the Assiniboine River was rising Sunday due to the advancing crest.

The second crest at the Portage Reservoir is forecast to be 52,000 to 53,000 cubic feet per second Monday and will stay high for a few days before dropping back, the province said in its flood bulletin.

The province said it's keeping the Hoop and Holler bend ready for a controlled breach if an urgent situation arises.

As of Sunday, approximately 741 people had been forced from their homes and communities due to flooding in 2014, including 160 evacuees related to spring flooding.

Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) reported that as of Friday at noon, the number of evacuees in Manitoba included 517 people who left First Nations due to flooding in June and July.

Of these, 327 evacuees have registered with the Manitoba Association of Native Fire Fighters and are receiving temporary hotel accommodations, while the others are staying with friends and family in their communities.

The provincial bulletin reported that its officials, meanwhile, continue to work directly with municipalities to address flooding issues. As of Sunday, 55 municipalities and communities had declared a state of local emergency.


Updated on Monday, July 14, 2014 at 11:50 AM CDT: Adds live video

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