Edmonton relief volunteers are waiting in the wings to help eastern neighbours escape obsidian floodwaters threatening to swallow the most heavily populated area of Manitoba.

“Manitoba (Red Cross) wasn’t able to deal with the whole situation itself, so Manitoba asked western (Red Cross) if it could mobilize volunteers,” said Red Cross spokesman Martin Pollard.

A state of emergency was declared by Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz Thursday morning, after waters rose on both the Red and Assiniboine rivers, which meet in the city’s downtown core.

The designation means city officials can force residents to flee their homes if necessary.

Two local Red Cross volunteers, Jeff Gill and Marj Pettinger, have ventured to the heart of the brewing disaster area in the past few weeks.

Officials have reported about 240 homes along river banks are affected.

Nearly 170 residents of the Peguis First Nation were evacuated to the provincial capital after the ever-rising Fisher River flooded their homes on Tuesday. A state of emergency was declared in the small community after sandbag dikes failed to withstand the murky waters, and 50 homes were flooded.

Local Red Cross officials have been put on standby, if the need to reunite displaced family members reaches critical mass, Edmonton-area officials said Thursday.

with files from reuters

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