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Evacuation orders issued in Whiteshell Provincial Park as state of local emergency declared due to rising water

Click to play video: 'Whiteshell cottagers battle high water' Whiteshell cottagers battle high water
The effort to protect properties at risk continues tonight with rising waters and widespread damage. Abigail Turner has more from the Whiteshell – May 20, 2022

Rising water levels have forced the province to issue a local state of emergency in Whiteshell Provincial Park.

An evacuation order has also been issued for the Betula Lake area, including all cottage subdvisions, commercial areas, group use, day use, recreational and picnic areas, playgrounds, trails and beaches.

READ MORE: Flood risk varies in Manitoba heading into long weekend

The province also says residents in areas near Betula Lake should be prepared to evacuate.

Manitobans are being asked to avoid travelling to Whiteshell Provincial Park, as many highways are flooded.

The rapidly rising water levels are causing deteriorating and dangerous conditions, posing a significant risk to public safety, according to the province.

Cottagers prepare for worst

Water levels for lakes on the Winnipeg River system are expected to get higher, and cottagers and residents are bracing for the worst.

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“If the water does breach and it comes up that two feet that they’re talking about, (it) will literally fill up the basement, the crawl space of our cottage,” Eleanor Lake resident Gordon White told Global News.

“And potentially, hopefully not, get onto the floor, which would be a disaster.”

The Winnipeg River is expected to crest in early June. Manitoba Hydro is predicting lake levels will rise in the next 10 to 15 days by 2.2 feet for Eleanor and Margaret Lake, 2.3 feet for Sylvia Lake, 2.1 feet for Nutimik, 1.9 feet for Dorothy, and 1.2 feet for 8 Foot Falls.

White says the ordeal has resulted in many sleepless nights.

“A lot of stress, (for) myself included and others,” White said.

“I feel like giving up at times but we’re not quitters, most people aren’t. We’re just going to do what we can and hope for the best.”

Eleanor Lake cottager Terry Solomon says he’s never seen lake levels like this.

“I don’t think we’ve ever seen these levels, I haven’t in my lifetime, I don’t think anyone has ever seen these levels,” Solomon said. “It’s probably more than a foot higher than I’ve ever seen here.”

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Solomon can now only reach his cottage by boat or with a pair of hip waders.

“I can’t bag anymore because I can’t get in or out, so I’m just lifting stuff now, everything is going two feet off the ground,” he said.

“(People) are almost ready to give up, it’s that bad. It’s really hard right now.”

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