Prairie floods displace 1,000 as storms move east
More than 1,000 people have been displaced across Canada's Prairie provinces by rising rivers threatening to spill over their banks.
In Manitoba, about 866 people have already been forced from their homes because the Souris, Assiniboine and Red rivers have spilled over their banks in some places.
Most evacuations have been precautionary, as officials are more worried about roads being washed out, which would isolate people who might need assistance.
More than 600 municipal roads have been closed by flooding, which officials say is far more widespread than the last bad flood in 2009. There have been 32 states of local emergency declared, compared to 16 in 2009.
Rivers in the region are always full this time of year as the snow melts, but officials say water levels are at some of the highest levels since record keeping began.
The Souris River, in the province's southwest, has crested at Melita, but it's expected high water levels will hang around for as long as a week. Barring severe weather, no further crests are expected, but the Assiniboine and Red rivers, which meet in Winnipeg, have yet to crest. They are on pace to do so at the same time, possibly in early May.
"The good news is — at least in terms of storm systems — they're all plowing into the eastern half of the country," CBC News meteorologist Michelle Leslie says. "The jet stream is really dipping them south out of the Prairie provinces."
Evacuation centres are open in several municipalities across Manitoba to accommodate those forced out by flooding, the CBC's Sean Kavanagh reports.
In neighbouring Saskatchewan, the watershed authority warns that floodwaters have yet to peak in eastern parts of the province. More than a dozen communities in the province are under a state of emergency.
On Thursday, two more communities in Saskatchewan — the Standing Buffalo First Nation and the village of Lebret — declared flood emergencies.
Volunteers have been sandbagging around Standing Buffalo to protect homes and the school. Several families have been relocated. The community is about 80 kilometres northeast of Regina.
The Battle River in North Battleford is expected to crest as early as Friday. In Regina, the Wascana Creek is expected to crest some time early next week. But officials hope the level won't be much higher than it already is.
There is some good news in the province, as snow melt is complete in many areas. Peak flows have occurred, so stream levels are declining in some places. Last Mountain Lake will peak in early May.
It's the Cypress Hills area that everyone is watching.
The Frenchman River is still expected to see a nasty flood, something that hasn't hit the area since 1952. Water levels at Weyburn, Swift Current and Moose Jaw continue to decline.