In a sign the tide is changing, floodwater from the swollen Morris and Red rivers has dropped enough to expose the railings of the bridge on Highway 75 into the town of Morris.

<p>The town of Morris closed its dikes because of Red River flooding south of Winnipeg. (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)</p>

The town of Morris closed its dikes because of Red River flooding south of Winnipeg. (John Woods / The Canadian Press files)

In a sign the tide is changing, floodwater from the swollen Morris and Red rivers has dropped enough to expose the railings of the bridge on Highway 75 into the town of Morris.

Ralph Groening, reeve of the RM of Morris, said water levels are beginning to subside following the crest of the Red a few days ago.

"It’s dropping a couple of inches a day," Groening said on Friday. "The bridge railings are just starting to show."

As many as 170 residents remain evacuated from their homes and municipality workers have started cleaning up.

"We expect by Thursday we will be in full operation with the water far enough down. We will do the repair of culverts and as the roads reappear, to fix them. There are dozens of roads that will need work."

Groening admitted he’s frustrated. It’s been close to two long months since the municipality began preparing for the flood and the prolonged cool and wet weather has been a hindrance.

"We had our first ‘how do we respond’ special meeting at the end of March and it has now been close to two months now," he said.

"We need dry weather. Everyone’s hoping for warmer weather now."

Volunteers build a super sandbag dike to protect homes in Minnedosa on Friday. (Tim Smith / The Brandon Sun)

Volunteers build a super sandbag dike to protect homes in Minnedosa on Friday. (Tim Smith / The Brandon Sun)

The risk to people’s safety posed by floodwater prompted the RCMP to warn motorists to heed barricades, including when roads are impassable.

RCMP said a 21-year-old Winnipeg man had to be rescued from his car Thursday when it became submerged in floodwater on provincial road 200 north of St. Adolphe.

The man had phoned for help at about 8:15 a.m., telling emergency operators the water was up to his steering wheel and he couldn’t get out through the doors or windows.

St. Pierre-Jolys RCMP officers and local firefighters rescued him. He was fined $237 for driving on a barricaded road.

In western Manitoba, the Little Saskatchewan River in Minnedosa has started to drop and the flow has slowed down. Earlier this week, the town frantically produced sandbags and bolstered dikes along the river, including at its two schools.

The town was able to suspend the need for volunteers and scale down its operations centre.

The town said the flood fight on Friday focused on reinforcing dikes. Weekend staff were expected to monitor the dikes and water pumps.

Manitoba Hydro warned Manitobans to be careful around rivers and lakes, especially around the utility’s generating stations.

"We all need to be careful of the high flows, increased levels and rapidly changing water levels we’re seeing on our rivers, particularly when near our generating stations on the Winnipeg River," said Jay Grewal, president and CEO, in a statement.

"Property owners and resource users should secure docks and move valuable items like boats to higher ground."

The utility said because of record-high flows on the Winnipeg River, waters levels will rise during the next two weeks on lakes in the system, including by about 2.1 feet at Nutimik Lake, 2.2 feet at Margaret/Eleanor lakes, and 2.3 feet at Sylvia Lake.

Hydro said it would increase the release of water from the Jenpeg Generating Station at the north end of Lake Winnipeg because of higher flows into the lake from the Winnipeg and Red rivers.

Currently, the lake is at 714.9 feet above sea level, but is forecast to reach 717 feet by early July, higher than the 716.9 peak during the 2011 flood.

Last year at this time, during a drought, the lake was at 712.8 feet. The utility’s licence from the province requires it to keep the lake between 711 to 715 feet. If is above that, it has to maximize water discharge into the Nelson River system.

In Winnipeg, residents woke up Friday to flakes of snow after a day and night of heavy rain.

City spokesman David Driedger said there were 16 complaints of sewer backup, but no reports of basement flooding.

Driedger said 41 catch basins were plugged.

"Generally speaking, the city’s network of sewers, combined sewers, land drainage systems and wastewater treatment plans are operating as intended and designed," he said.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.