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Waves damage dikes, property in St. Laurent

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ST. LAURENT, MANITOBA — Officials in the RM of St. Laurent fear that hundreds of properties along swollen Lake Manitoba could be under a mandatory evacuation for most of the summer, if lake levels do not drop.

The news came after scores of residents were hastily evacuated from their homes Tuesday, as shrieking winds drove the lake over a kilometre inland in some places, swamping dikes and tossing debris all over the communities of Twin Lakes Beach, Laurentia Beach and Johnson Beach.

"We are in a very precarious position," said Reeve Earl Zotter, after touring the devastated shoreline on Wednesday morning.

"The storm we felt yesterday was probably something we'd expect in October. But with the lake being so high, it gaves us a huge stomp and it was just a recipe for disaster."

On Wednesday, the RM announced that the mandatory evacuation that was levied on Tuesday will be in place for at least three days after shrill winds sent Lake Manitoba crashing into shorefront properties and gushing into fields far from the beach.

Evacuees showed photos and video of the waves wiping out sandbag dikes and flooding debris across lawns and into walls and decks.

Outside the office, Pamela Loeb sat in the back of a truck with her three dogs and two cats. One of her cats is still stranded at her home at Johnson Beach.

Loeb is hoping that officials will let her back to her house to rescue the cat, which she couldn't find when RCMP hastily evacuated her from her home on Tuesday afternoon.

"It was insane (yesterday)," Loeb said. "The water came in so bad... It flooded over the dikes."

Areas under mandatory evacuation include 80 properties (20 permanent homes) in the RM of St. Laurent, 68 properties (10 permanent homes) in the RM of Woodlands and residences in Delta Beach.

Evacuees are asked to register by telephone with the Red Cross at 1-888-662-3211. RM Coun. Lisa Wurm said officials believe all have been evacuated safely.

Lake Manitoba has been inundated in the past month by flood water from western Manitoba via the Portage Diversion and the Waterhen River.

History

Updated on Wednesday, June 1, 2011 at 3:18 PM CDT: Adds video.

3:45 PM: Added new information about continued high water levels, duration of evacuation

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