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Evacuations caused by flood

Flood fears eased in Manitoba's second-largest city Monday as emergency officials turned their attention to smaller rural communities downstream.

The swollen Assiniboine River was dropping from its crest in Brandon as dikes and other protection measures held back the water.

The high water was headed east to areas around Portage la Prairie, where more than 500 soldiers had been sandbagging properties since Saturday.

"We're into a very critical 72 hours. We're mobilizing every resource we have available to deal with a huge surge of water that's coming," said Steve Ashton, the province's emergency measures minister.

Some 770 residents had been evacuated as of Monday, the vast majority as a precaution in case roads became impassable or there was a sudden breach of a dike.

The summer flood was caused by torrential rain at the end of June that fell on ground that was already saturated by a wet spring. Manitoba Premier Greg Selinger declared a state of emergency last Friday.

The Assiniboine was expected to crest near Portage la Prairie by Wednesday morning at a level very close to the combined capacity of the river and the Portage diversion — a channel that drains water from the river to Lake Manitoba.

Because the river and diversion channel will be pushed to their limits, crews were working to reinforce dikes on the shoreline.

A mandatory evacuation order was issued for 16 permanent homes and more than 100 seasonal cottages at Delta Beach on the south end of Lake Manitoba, where the Portage diversion empties into the lake.

The Canadian Press

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