Manitoba river levels decline, lowering flood risk

The flood situation is looking slightly better in southern Manitoba, with river levels dropping in many areas, although in other parts of the province high water might last until June.
The Morris River in Morris, Man., has washed out the main bridge into the town on Highway 75. Provincial officials now say water levels won't rise as high as they predicted. (David Lipnowski/Canadian Press)

The flood situation was looking slightly better in southern Manitoba on Tuesday, with river levels dropping in many areas, but in other parts of the province high water might last until June.

A revised forecast from the Manitoba government says rivers haven't risen as high as first predicted.

"The Red River and the Assiniboine River are both running on the lower levels of their forecast peaks, although we are waiting for the Red River to crest just north of Emerson today and May 2  to May 5 for Winnipeg," said CBC meterologist Johanna Wagstaffe.

"The big concern is the duration of these high water levels … which are expected to last all the way into June in some cases. But the temperatures are not playing as big as a factor as they once did, even though they're into the high teens today."

Highs of 18 or 19 C are expected for Regina and Winnipeg on Tuesday. Not much snowpack is left along the southern Prairies and not a lot of precipitation is in the forecast, which is good news, Wagstaffe said.

The Roseau River First Nation in Manitoba is nearly empty after nearly 800 people were forced out of their homes and moved to hotels in Winnipeg.

Only 37 people have stayed behind to monitor the dikes and to provide security to the homes there, said CBC reporter Wab Kinew.

The total number of evacuees provincewide is now at least 1,772 and expected to climb. A similar evacuation in 2009 cost $1.4 million lasted a month.

However, after a revised flood forecast Monday, Roseau River band officials have told CBC News this evacuation may only last a week or two, Kinew said.

"It will all depend on the water levels. We are expected to see the crest here today, possibly tomorrow, but until that is for sure, the people of Roseau River won't know when they can return home."

In Saskatchewan, many communities continue to be on high alert for flooding, but water levels in some areas are starting to level off.

About 15 communities in the province have declared a state of emergency because of flooding.