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Flood-threatened Manitoba to see rain this weekend

Forecast flood areas
Forecast flood areas

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

April 10, 2011 — Winnipeg's Red River Floodway was opened Saturday ahead of a rainy weekend forecast for flood-threatened southern Manitoba.

The swollen Red River
The swollen Red River

The move is just the latest in a string of measures, including sandbagging and icebreaking, to mitigate the danger to people and property ahead of an expected above-average flood season.

Up to 30 mm of rain is forecast to fall in places on Sunday, and residents and officials are on high alert.

“Temperatures are mild into the weekend, so this will affect the melting of the snowpack. All of these factors combined present a problematic situation,” says Brian Dillon, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

The Red River has been rising steadily since last week and is expected to reach major flood stage this weekend.

Flooding has already been reported in several areas including the rural municipality of St. Andrews, which declared a state of emergency and began evacuating residents Saturday.

In De Salaberry, south of Winnipeg, a 61-year-old man died when his car was swept away by water rushing across a road.

Rising water in Winnipeg
Rising water in Winnipeg

Ice jams -- which caused localized flooding in Saskatchewan Friday -- have also been contributing to high water levels in and around Winnipeg.

On Saturday morning, the Red River Floodway was opened slightly to divert some of the Red's water around the city.

On Sunday, officials reported that the Red had dropped more than a foot overnight near flood-hit Selkirk. It's believed that an ice jam released, lessening the flood danger in some communities.

Chuck Sanderson, executive director of Manitoba's Emergency Measures Organization, said plans to mitigate the risk to people and property are unfolding as expected.

“All of the municipalities are activating their emergency operations centres and the EMO is co-ordinating the provincial government's response to the flooding in support of those municipalities,” he said.

“It's a very busy time because we have a lot of activity on a lot of rivers simultaneously, but things are going as we would expect.”

With files from Jill Colton and the Canadian Press

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