An unprecedented number of roads are under water in southern Manitoba and more could close because of this year's spring flooding, officials said today.
There are 78 provincial roads affected by flooding, including 55 which are now fully closed. There are also approximately 500 municipal roads closed.
Flood watches remain in effect through much of the flood zone, which stretches from the Saskatchewan boundary to the Red River valley and near The Pas. To date, 32 municipalities have declared states of local emergency.
The province also says 763 people have been displaced because of flooding, most from Peguis First Nation on the Fisher River.
In Melita today, water-filled aqua dams are being set up on top of the existing community clay dike to meet the crest of the Souris River and large sand-filled cage-barrier dikes are being set up along PTH 3 and PTH 83 as a secondary line of defence on a low area of the highway.
Officials also said work continues in St-Lazare to add an additional one foot on top of the lower portion of that community's ring dike. Eight homes outside of the ring dike are being sandbagged to protect against forecasted crest levels.
Repairs are also continuing on the Assiniboine River dikes between Poplar Point and the Baie St. Paul Bridge after damaged by this past the weekend's high-water levels.
Closer to Winnipeg, the floodway gates will be raised again today to deal with higher water levels on the Red River and expected higher levels on the Assiniboine River. The rising of the gates will remain below natural within the range of 761.15 ft. to 761.5 ft., then steadily rise until the forecasted peak flows occur between April 30 and May 4.
Officials still expect the Assiniboine to crest at the same time in Winnipeg. The upper level of the forecast range for the Red River remains somewhat above 2009 levels for most points on the river.
On a new front, the province's flood forecast centre will provide new information this year on the extent of ice coverage on Manitoba lakes, including Lake Manitoba and Lake Winnipeg.
Advisories will be provided based on potential ice movement on lakes due to wind. This information should assist year-round residents living on lakes and cottage owners to understand the risk of ice buildup on shorelines and the potential for ice to blow into homes.
Officials predict water levels will be higher this year than last on Lake Manitoba and Winnipeg, creating the potential for further erosion.