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More communities declare emergencies because of flooding on Prairies

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A herd of cattle is stranded between a fence and a rising creek outside Brandon, Man., Monday, June 30, 2014. Southwest Manitoba has seen a large amount of rainfall the past several days. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

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A herd of cattle is stranded between a fence and a rising creek outside Brandon, Man., Monday, June 30, 2014. Southwest Manitoba has seen a large amount of rainfall the past several days. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods

About 500 people were forced out of their homes and dozens of roads were impassable due to flooding caused by a deluge of rain in southern Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Thirty-six communities in Saskatchewan and 31 municipalities in Manitoba were under states of emergency Monday. A state of emergency means local officials can order evacuations and apply for disaster assistance.

Parts of southeast Saskatchewan got more than 240 millimetres of rain, according to the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency. Some parts of western Manitoba reported more than 100 millimetres over the weekend.

Officials in both provinces said that rain fell on land that was already saturated.

"It's the local tributaries, the local creeks, the smaller ones that we're seeing swell up," said Patrick Boyle with the Saskatchewan Water Security Agency.

"You get a heavy concentration of rainfall in a large, broad area like this and we're seeing washouts because of roads getting pushed and there's sloughs that are already full."

RCMP said Monday there was no access by road to the village of Carievale, Sask., because rising water flowed over the main road and a bridge had become impassable.

The flooding closed sections of at least 15 highways in Saskatchewan, including a stretch of the TransCanada east of Regina.

The rain also led to record flow levels on 13 southern Manitoba rivers and streams.

"Creeks that are often pretty minimal in terms of flows have become far more than creeks, often much more approaching rivers in terms of flows," said Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation Minister Steve Ashton.

The Red River Floodway was to begin operating Tuesday to divert water around Winnipeg. The Portage diversion, a channel that funnels water from the Assiniboine River into Lake Manitoba, is also being used.

More than 300 people in southeast Saskatchewan and 200 in southern Manitoba were out of their homes because of rising water levels. Some left because water poured into their basements, while others fled because roads were washed out and access to communities was cut off.

Firefighters went door-to-door in Gainsborough, Sask., on Sunday night advising everyone to leave after water rose on the last available road out of the village.

The mayor of Gainsborough said dozens of homes and businesses were flooded and that it was "going to be a disaster."

Melville, about 140 kilometres northeast of Regina, declared a state of local emergency after rain overwhelmed the city's storm and domestic sewer systems, as well as its lift stations. Mayor Walter Streelasky said there's little the city can do to move the water.

"We have mass flooding," Streelasky said. "We have great difficulty exiting all this water out of Melville and we have numerous, numerous, countless (calls) of houses being flooded."

Kris Carley, the emergency measures operations co-ordinator for the town of Carnduff, Sask., and the rural municipality of Mount Pleasant, said flooding in the area was getting worse as rain continued Monday.

Carley said the community is functioning, but roads were getting cut off and people could be stranded.

"There's not a lot we can do," said Carley. "Mother Nature's got us and we just have to try to react."

The city of Regina was asking people to delay laundry, showers, baths and even flushing toilets to prevent additional strain on the system.

WestJet had cancelled flights Sunday in and out of Brandon, Man., when water swamped the road into the terminal north of the city. But city spokeswoman Allison Collins said Monday that travellers heading to Calgary on the afternoon flight could get to the airport by taking a detour.

Ashton said it was "one heck of a weekend" for weather in Manitoba and he hoped things would turn around.

"I said a few days ago, we could use a break in the weather. We certainly haven't gotten it thus far," he said.

"It's anticipated there's going to be some further storm activity (Tuesday). If there is any good news, it's an indication that the current weather forecast is for improved weather later in this week.

"We could certainly use some hot, dry weather as a break."

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