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Ice blocking culvert near Birtle releases, water levels reducing

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Highway No. 45, near the Waywayseecappo First Nation, is closed between Highway 476 and Highway 264.

PROVINCE OF MANITOBA Enlarge Image

Highway No. 45, near the Waywayseecappo First Nation, is closed between Highway 476 and Highway 264.

The giant pool of water held up near the town of Birtle has finally released.

The province indicated this morning that the ice blocking the culvert at the base of a former railway embankment near the western Manitoba community finally released at approximately 12:30 a.m. this morning.

"What a difference 24 hours makes," said Steve Ashton, Manitoba's emergency measures minister. "We prepared for the worst case scenario. This is the best case scenario."

The railway embankment, a source of concern for officials due to its instability, remained in place and officials say the water on the Birdtail Creek tributary is flowing through the culvert freely. According to the provincial flood bulletin, the water levels had reduced to normal levels behind the embankment at around 7 o’clock this morning.

As the water rose behind the frozen culvert in recent days, homes in Birtle were protected by sandbags and tiger dams to six feet. But the river is now expected to rise only three feet at most. The crest is expected late this afternoon.

About 100 home in Birtle and Wayway are evacuated but none have been flooded and some people are now being allowed to return home.

The water has already come over a few of the roads in the area. Highway No. 45, near the Waywayseecappo First Nation, is closed between Highway 476 and Highway 264.

History

Updated on Wednesday, April 30, 2014 at 4:14 PM CDT: Adds comments from Steve Ashton.

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