Birtle declares emergency as area prepares for flooding

Flood forecasters have issued a flood warning for all points along Birdtail Creek north of Birtle in western Manitoba, prompting the town of Birtle and the RM of Birtle to declare a state of local emergency.

Ice jam on Birdtail Creek causing concerns for western Manitoba communities

Flood forecasters issued a flood warning for all points along Birdtail Creek north of Birtle in western Manitoba Saturday, prompting the town of Birtle and the Rural Municipality of Birtle to declare a state of local emergency.

Emergency measures officials are advising people living in the region's low-lying areas downstream of the former railway embankment to be prepared to leave quickly.

Ron Bell, the emergency measures public information manager for both the town and the RM of Birtle, said municipal officials made the decision to declare an emergency after they were notified that a rush of water from an ice jam in Birdtail Creek could be heading their way in the next day and a half.

Bell said some diking around the community's waste and other infrastructure was being done, but he added parts of the town have been flooded before and it's not an unusual situation. 

"I guess probably less than a dozen homes are at risk in the worst case," he said. "Nobody is expecting the worst case."

He said people have been told they may have to leave quickly, but he doesn't think large scale evacuations will be necessary. 

"It would just be a small number of places at this point, but I don't think it will be necessary," he said. "This is just an early warning. We know something will happen but we don't know to what extent." 

Bell said the town has closed one of the bridges and taken measures to weigh it down. 

"We have to be prepared to take measures quickly," he said. "It's just the smart thing to do."

Provincial emergency measures officials said they have been in touch with other communities that may be affected, including Miniota and Rossburn, the Birdtail Sioux First Nation and Waywayseecapo First Nation.