The swollen Red River has created a lake nearly 16 kilometres wide and covering more than 975 square kilometres in southern Manitoba, officials said early this week.
More than 2,200 people have been evacuated from their homes, but the ring dikes protecting communities and homes south of Winnipeg have for the most part done their jobs through the fourth worst flood on record for the region.
The most serious damage to homes has occurred north of the city where ice slabs jumped the river banks to decimate homes and property in the Breezy Point area and on the First Nations community of Peguis where more than 100 homes have suffered flood damage so far. The Manitoba Government announced this week it would double the disaster assistance available to homeowners to $200.000
Flood forecasters are now predicting the water could take at least three weeks to recede, raising fears among farmers that their land won’t dry out in time to seed this spring. While an area double the size encompassed by this year’s flood was covered in the Flood of the Century in 1997, those waters dissipated quickly and most farmers were still able to get a crop.
An unusually cool spring has combined with saturated soils to make spring overland flooding worse than expected in many parts of the province.
Meanwhile residents in the usually drought-ridden southwestern Manitoba community of Melita were hastily filling sandbags in preparation for the Souris River to spill its banks when it crests later this week.
Flood conditions are implicated in three deaths, a Selkirk-area man who went missing three weeks ago and is believed drowned, and an elderly Swan River area couple, believed drowned after they attempted to cross a ford crossing and their car was swept downstream.