Flooding prompts states of emergency

A state of emergency has been declared in the Rural Municipalities of Mossey River and Gimli as well as the village of Winnipegosis due to flooding.

Snow blankets parts of province while winds cause havoc in others

The main street of Wasagaming, the townsite in Riding Mountain National Park, is covered in snow on Wednesday. ((Courtesy of Parks Canada))

A state of emergency has been declared in the Rural Municipalities of Mossey River and Gimli as well as the village of Winnipegosis due to flooding.

Strong northerly winds off Lake Winnipegosis have caused high waves and pushed the water inland.

Josephine Bunka, a spokeswoman with the Emergency Measures Organization in Winnipegosis, said the area campground is flooded as are houses near there.

Four homes in Winnipegosis have been evacuated, according to a news release from the provincial government. A reception centre for those people and anyone else needing assistance has been set up in the village.

The Office of the Fire Commissioner (OFC) has also co-ordinated the evacuation of six homeowners just outside of Winnipegosis whose properties were surrounded by water overnight, the news release stated. Those people are now staying with family or friends.

Crews were sandbagging and building dikes through the night in an attempt to contain the water, but it was still carried inland by the gusting winds from a storm that has been blasting much of southern Manitoba.

In the RM of Gimli, there is a voluntary evacuation on Willow Island and it is expected that people in other areas will be forced to leave as the causeway will likely be impassable, according to municipal officials.

Gimli Mayor Tammy Axelsson said about 80 per cent of residents on Willow Island, is just south of the town of Gimli, have already left.

Homes evacuated, highways closed

Elsewhere in the province, at Sagkeeng First Nation, 10 homes have been evacuated due to overland flooding and more are threatened, according to Charmagne de Veer, a spokesperson with the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs.

As well, the bridge on Highway 11 is in danger from flash flooding, De Veer said.

In Fisher River Cree Nation, 14 homes are threatened by water from heavy rains, though no one has been evacuated. Community officials are using pumps to move the water away from the homes, the provincial government stated.

The province has supplied two emergency response trailers and inflatable tube dams to help fight the flooding.

The province has also supplied one emergency response trailer and inflatable dams to the Rural Municipality of St. Andrews where Netley Creek is flooding due to heavy rains.

The weather has also impacted travel in many parts of the province. Highway 319 just west of Highway 59 has been temporarily closed due to water over the roadway. Similarly, Highway 209 near Volga and Highway 320, just north of Highway 4 are all closed.

The latest information on water levels and road conditions is available at the Government of Manitoba website.

Debris blown off building

In Winnipeg, extremely windy conditions are causing havoc. Debris blew off a building forced police to shut down Higgins Avenue between Annabella Street and Waterfront Drive for about an hour, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Throughout the city, branches snapped from trees littered the ground while shingles were blown off some houses.

The storm, which has been tracking north-northeastward across southern Manitoba, has dumped 50 to 100 millimetres of rain since Monday afternoon.

Winds have gusted between 70 km/h and 90 km/h, and getting as high as 110 km/h in exposed areas, according to Environment Canada.

Power outages

Approximately 1,000 hydro customers were without power in the Interlake region early Wednesday evening. Manitoba Hydro said the areas around Patricia Beach, Grand Beach, Gull Lake and the rural areas in between are affected.

The wind, rain and downed trees are mostly to blame, Hydro officials said.

CBC News meteorologist John Sauder said a pressure gradient is causing the windy conditions.

"We're on the backside of [the storm] now and the pressure is changing rapidly over a short spacial distance. So it's kind of like forcing wind through Portage and Main with the tall buildings," he said.

The storm has also brought a lot of snow to some parts. Killarney has received about 12 centimetres while the International Peace Gardens at the Manitoba-U.S. border has had 30 centimetres.