April 30, 2014 12:12 pm

Threat recedes as water goes down in western Manitoba

Waywayseecappo First Nation is dealing with minor flooding on Wednesday morning.

Megan Batchelor / Global News

WAYWAYSEECAPPO FIRST NATION, Man. – The threat of major flooding in Waywayseecappo First Nation and Birtle, Man., has receded.

“It (the threat) is just not there anymore, I guess,” Waywayseecappo Chief Melville Wabash said Wednesday morning.

A culvert under an old railway bed that had frozen, damming up a tributary of Birdtail Creek and creating a lake that threatened to swamp parts of Waywayseecappo if the crumbling embankment gave way, finally opened again at about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday.

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Water that had pooled in a 30-metre-deep lake that stretched a kilometre and placed pressure on the former railway bed was released through the culvert and the level behind the embankment was normal by 7 a.m., provincial government flood forecasters said.

RELATED: Crews work through night but flood threat remains in western Manitoba

The opening of the culvert caused minor flooding in Waywayseecappo, home to just over 1,000 people, but the community had prepared for far more water.

Wabash, who visited the railway embankment Wednesday morning, said his community and Birtle, Man., farther downstream, are no longer in danger of a major deluge.

“It (the water on the other side of the embankment) is just about level now to the culvert,” he said.

Emergency officials have enforced evacuations in downstream areas, leaving more than 100 people out of their homes in Waywayseecappo and Birtle, which is farther downstream. It’s not known when they will be allowed to return to their homes.

Highway 45, which runs from Russell, Man., to the Birdtail Creek valley, was closed Wednesday morning due to water on the road.

RELATED: Flooding closes highways across Manitoba

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