Wed, Apr 15, 2009 - Page 7 News List

About 200 homes sustain damage in Canada flooding

AP , ST CLEMENTS, MANITOBA

A rush of floodwater and shifting slabs of ice have damaged some 200 homes along the Red River in midwestern Canada.

Officials said on Monday the flood damage ranged from near-total destruction to flooded basements. It wasn’t immediately clear how many homes would be permanently uninhabitable.

“There are some homes that are still sitting under four feet [1.1m] of water and some homes that are not going to be livable again,” St Clements Mayor Steve Strang said as he toured the hardest-hit areas of his sprawling rural municipality.

Crews have been battling the swollen Red River for weeks by using ice-breaking machines to try to keep the water flowing and setting down sandbags and dikes to protect properties.

Efforts were overwhelmed on the weekend when a sudden, massive ice jam sent a rush of water spilling over the banks about 20km south of where the river empties into Lake Winnipeg.

Some 100 homes were evacuated. Sixty people had to be rescued, including a handful who climbed onto a rooftop.

The Manitoba government promised financial assistance to cover evacuation costs and losses not covered by insurance. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was to observe the affected areas yesterday.

The ice jam moved downstream on Monday and water levels were dropping, but officials were bracing for more trouble all along the Red River in the days and weeks to come.

It’s not clear when the flood threat will ease. Heavy rains in North Dakota are expected to send a second crest downstream into Manitoba later this month. Officials expect the crest will still be well below community ring dikes, but rising levels were already swamping more farmland and rural roads south of Winnipeg.

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