NEWS
04/28/2014 11:09 EDT | Updated 06/28/2014 05:59 EDT

Flood threat in numerous Manitoba communities

Premier Greg Selinger is heading to flooded areas of western Manitoba, where a crumbling dike is threatening to send a surge of water into several communities.

Birtle, Birdtail Sioux First Nation​, Miniota, Rossburn and Waywayseecappo First Nation are all bracing for that water.

This morning, Selinger will meet with officials in Birtle, where 12 homes in the town and surrounding area have been evacuated as a precautionary measure.

Ron Bell, the emergency measures public information manager for both the town and the RM of Birtle, has told CBC News the flooding could begin at any time, so crews are raising earth dikes and putting temporary tube dams in place.

He said there is positive news as of Monday morning — it appears the crest of the flooding creek has passed.

"That's good news for us because every foot the water goes down it gives us an extra foot of capacity when the [dike breaches and the] water comes," Bell said.

Selinger is scheduled to make an afternoon stop at Waywayseecappo, where 60 people have been forced from homes as precaution. Most of the evacuees are at a hotel in Russell.

Chief Melville Wabash worries about a number of essential buildings that could be flooded.

"We're talking grocery store, gas bar, RCMP detachment, daycare," he said.

No evacuations have taken place on the Birdtail reserve, but chief Nelson Bunn is keeping a close eye on the "Birdtail River" as he now calls the creek.

Portions of the reserve are being flooded but in areas away from homes.

High alert in Peguis

Meanwhile, people living in Peguis First Nation remain on high alert.

Although the Fisher River is slowly receding, there is rain in the forecast and there is fear it could raise the levels again.

Some 134 people were forced to leave over the weekend as the swollen river washed over its banks and surrounded homes.

Chief Glenn Hudson said officials on the First Nation are watching the water levels after a hectic weekend of sandbagging.

Hudson said if there is a lot of rain, it could put more homes at risk.

"We did have 28 homes protected. We'll be assessing that today now that it has dropped somewhat, but given that the rain is coming it may raise the level of the river," he said.

There are plans for more permanent flood-proofing, such as raising roads, but that work has yet to begin, Hudson said.

"And the long term solution is to have, like a causeway, that would take off the headwater from the river and divert it away," he said.

Permanent flood protection is expected to cost $90 million.

The First Nation has already spent $35 million on temporary protection over the past few years battling incessant floods.

Hudson said the community has flooded seven times in the past five years.