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Flooding concerns rising in parts of rural Manitoba due to heavier rainfall

WINNIPEG - Heavy rainfall and strong winds are causing flooding concerns to rise in some areas of rural Manitoba.

The provincial government issued a wind warning Wednesday for the south basin of Lake Winnipeg and the south and southeast shores of Lake Manitoba.

Strong winds from the north are expected to raise water levels later in the week by more than one metre in some areas, with wave action on top of that.

"There is going to be a risk to lakeside things such as boathouses, docks and picnic tables and things that may be down there," said Lee Spencer, assistant deputy minister of the province's emergency measures organization.

Officials were also keeping an eye on Lake St. Martin, an area hard-hit in 2011 by flooding that prompted the evacuation of some First Nations communities. This year is not nearly as serious, but water levels are expected to rise by the end of the month to within one metre of the top of dikes that protect communities around the lake.

"There has been significant wind and wave uprush along the shorelines there, and so we like to have three feet or more of free board. We will be at that point at the end of this month," said Doug McNeil, deputy minister of infrastructure and transportation.

The province has asked the federal government for permission to operate an emergency channel that drains water out of Lake St. Martin to reduce the risk of dikes being topped in coming weeks.

Manitoba sees spring flooding of some sort almost every year, because water flows in from as far away as the Rockies and South Dakota.

Many areas of the province have so far been unharmed this year, with the exception of three rural municipalities in the southwest. Some rural roads have been washed out, creating potential problems for emergency responders, and farmers have been unable to seed their crops.

About 11,000 hectares of farmland in that area will not be able to be seeded with normal crops this year, the government said.

Rainfall amounts have been double normal levels in April, May and early June.

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