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Floodway activated; Selinger visits flooded areas in Westman

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Trevor Hagan / Winnipeg Free Press

Captain Jerry Larkin, one of the soldiers from CFB Shilo, makes sandbags alongside workers from the Municipality of Portage la Prairie on Saturday.

Premier Greg Selinger toured flooded areas near Brandon this morning, promising that a Manitoba Conservation helicopter will be moved to the city to help with medical responses in western Manitoba.

The helicopter will be moved to the Brandon Municipal Airport today.

Over the last 48 hours, towns and RMs expressed safety concerns caused by the overland flooding and road closures throughout south western Manitoba.

"We are working with the department of conservation to move a helicopter to Brandon today," Selinger said, before leaving to tour Deloraine and Melita.

"We are concerned about the amount of water that still has to come from Saskatchewan," Selinger said. "An updated forecast of how much is expected later today, and that will hopefully give us and communities an idea of what needs to be done."

The Red River floodway was activated at 9 a.m. today to protect basements and homes in Winnipeg from an expected rise in river levels. Boaters cannot access the area around the floodway inlet and the control structure.

The Red is expected to rise to about 17.4 to 17.7 feet James over the next week and stay about 14 feet until mid-July. Normal summer average levels for the Red are usually 6.5 feet James; the walkway along the Assiniboine River is at 8.5 feet James.

Winnipeg police warned Tuesday that both the Red and Assiniboine rivers are extremely high, fast moving and filled with debris, and advised against boating on the waterways.  All city of Winnipeg boat launches are closed and barricaded.

200 evacuated from homes

More than 200 people have been evacuated as flooding continues to wreak havoc in large parts of Manitoba, according to Steve Ashton, Manitoba's minister of infrastructure and transportation.

"We're seeing record flows on many of the tributaries across the province. We're seeing some very significant flows, much greater than normal," Ashton said in a press conference.

The province is focused on dealing with immediate flooding issues around the province as quickly as possible. Until communities are out of harms way, it will not have an estimate of how much the damage will cost, Selinger said.

"It will depend on what happens over the next few days, but we expect claims to be made for disaster financial assistance," the premier said.

Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization encourages residents to take appropriate action and keep track of expenses and losses. Recording damages with pictures and spending costs will help to make claims for disaster financial assistance later.

Flood warnings have been issued for:

  • the Assiniboine River, from the Shellmouth Dam to Brandon,
  • all points along the Winnipeg River system including Nutimik Lake,
  • Lake St. Martin,
  • Dauphin Lake,
  • Qu'Appelle River,
  • Vermillion River and Valley River near Dauphin,
  • Medora Creek near Napinka,
  • Gainsborough Creek near Lyleton,
  • Gopher Creek near Virden,
  • Roaring River at Minitonas,
  • McKinnon Creek near McCreary,
  • Scissor Creek near McCauley,
  • Little Souris River near Brandon,
  • Epinette Creek near Carberry,
  • Graham Creek near Melita and
  • the Little Saskatchewan River near Rivers.

Flood watches have also been issued for Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg, with high water advisories for all points along the Red, Souris and Saskatchewan rivers.

Emergency procedures are being enacted, Ashton said. opened. Construction will also begin on the Lake St. Martin emergency outlet channel on July 2, and will start taking water soon after, Ashton said.

Because of road closures, the province is also asking travelers to call 511 to check on road conditions before travelling.

-- with files from the Brandon Sun

History

Updated on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 12:28 PM CDT: Updates with comments from Premier Selinger.

1:48 PM: Removes repetition.

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