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Red River floods major Winnipeg route

WINNIPEG, Manitoba, April 7 (UPI) -- Sections of Highway 75, a major artery between Winnipeg, Canada, and the U.S. border, were closed Tuesday to prepare for flooding by the Red River.

Business people told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. the action by Manitoba provincial officials would have a significant financial impact on the region.

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"It will be very quiet around here," said Lisa Wiebe, who works at a Morris-area store. "About 80 to 85 percent of our customers are the truck drivers going to and from the states into Winnipeg. If they close the highway, they will be routed around us, and we will kind of be like a ghost town out here."

Grant Mohr, Winnipeg's flood protection and planning engineer, told the Winnipeg Sun after a week of warning river-area residents to sandbag and break up ice, things looked good.

"We're very prepared for this," Mohr said. "I think this year is going to go down as the year of the ice. Our flood-fighting efforts have been driven by the ice."

He said there was a 24-hour watch for ice jams on the north-flowing river and long-reach backhoes and ice-breaking machines were in place at hazardous areas, such as near bridges that could be damaged by thick, shifting ice packs.

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The CBC said there was overwhelming public response last weekend to calls for volunteers to fill and place sandbags.

Monday, the Red River was at 17.1 feet in Winnipeg, expected to crest at 19.5 to 20.5 feet Tuesday night or Wednesday morning, officials said. A second crest is expected April 17, they said.

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