Hundreds in Peguis First Nation flee homes as Fisher River floods community

Flooding has forced more than 1,000 people living in the Peguis First Nation from their homes after local officials issued a mandatory evacuation order on Sunday.

More than 1,000 people are currently staying at hotels in Winnipeg, and hundreds more are expected to leave the community.

Sheriff Glenn Hudson said he had never seen flooding this bad and was calling on the military to step in and help.

“It’s worse than the 2011 flood, it was a big event for us in terms of flooding, but I believe this is probably one of the worst on record,” he told Marcy. Markusa, CBC Manitoba morning radio host Information station.

The community of Interlake, 160 kilometers north of Winnipeg, is the most populous First Nation in the province, with approximately 11,000 members, 4,800 of whom live in the community.

Canada Indigenous Services said it is working with First Nations communities to identify immediate needs and that Canada will carefully review any request for military assistance.

VIEW | Aerial footage shows flooding in Peguis First Nation:

Aerial footage shows flooding in Peguis First Nation

This video is from Sunday, May. 1, 2022 shows the extent of flood damage in the Peguis First Nation, where residents were forced to leave their homes over the weekend. (Submitted by Kyle McCorrister) 2:07

Arlene Spence said her home was one of the first to be evacuated. The river, which flows right in front of her house, is now completely surrounded by water, she said.

“It looks like a float in the middle of a lake.”

Rain and snowfall

Areas in Interlake and east of Lake Winnipeg received an average of 30 to 50 mm of rain over the weekend, after a month of heavy rain and snowfall that saturated the ground, the Transportation and Infrastructure Administration said. Manitoba said.

Over the weekend, ice at the mouth of the Fisher River caused water levels to rise and spill over onto roads, flooding communities despite sandbag efforts and the deployment of the water-filled Tiger Dams.

Hudson said: “There have been many houses broken into.

A Peguis First Nation resident wades through thigh-high water as other members sandbags around a house on May 2, 2022. (Tyson Koschik / CBC)

There are 480 homes surrounded by floodwaters near the Fisher River, he said.

Other homes in suburban areas have had their power cut off due to flooding that has swept through the roads. Hudson said there are at least six roads inaccessible due to flooding.

“Where roads have been breached, people cannot get out,” he said.

“So when it comes to emergency services like ambulance, fire, etc., RCMP, those roads are completely cut off.”

Spence has been away from home for more than two years after the 2011 floods, and says the situation this year is even worse.

“It was very stressful. It was very difficult. I even broke down because I had never seen it this bad before,” she said.

She and her husband had to give up six of their seven dogs because they couldn’t take care of them during the flood. She worries about the state of her house when they return.

“What did you pack? What do you want? Everything in our house is like new, now it’s all waterlogged.”

A group of people from the Peguis First Nation stayed behind to help protect homes from water intrusion. More than 1,000 people from the community are currently staying in hotels in Winnipeg. (Tyson Koschik / CBC)

Buses took people out of the community and into Winnipeg.

A spokesman for the Canadian Red Cross told CBC News that Peguis was the only community it was helping to evacuate as of Monday.

Hudson said the community had gone to great lengths with evacuation efforts, but they were taken by surprise after initial projections suggested little risk of severe flooding.

“I know I’ve been getting a lot of calls and texts from people who are afraid of water, because clearly they’ve never seen this magnitude of an event before.”

The first flood bulletin from the Province of Manitoba to warn of flooding on the Fisher River was issued on Friday.

A Tiger Dam fence protects a home threatened by flooding on the Peguis First Nation. Sheriff Glenn Hudson said this year’s flooding could be the worst the community has ever seen. (Tyson Koschik / CBC)

Premier Peguis wants to sit down with federal and provincial officials to discuss long-term flood prevention plans for the community.

Shelley Dawn McCorrister says her parents’ home is in danger.

“It’s heartbreaking – it’s heartbreaking for our elders and all the people who are both stressed and trying to keep up with the pump and the house,” she said.

Renee Spence manages a grocery store in the Peguis First Nation while trying to protect her home from flooding. (Sam Samson / CBC)

Renee Spence runs a grocery store in the community, where she continues to run the business while trying to protect her home.

“I’m trying to keep an eye on my house and then keep things running like food and groceries for people who are out of Peguis,” she said.

Hudson said the peak is not expected for another day or two, so flooding in the community could get worse before the water begins to recede.

A drone captures a bird’s-eye view of a bird in the Fisher River Cree Nation after a weekend of heavy rain. As of Saturday, seven homes are being protected by tiger dams, like the one pictured. (Submitted by Jeremy Neault)

The first neighbor is also affected

Just north of the Peguis First Nation, the Fisher River Cree Nation is also dealing with the effects of flooding.

Sheriff David Crate said on Saturday that only one household had been evacuated, while six others were being protected by the Tiger Dams.

Since then, several members with medical concerns have been taken to Winnipeg and Gimli, according to the latest online flood updates on Monday.

Heads and councils are asking members who had left the community before severe flooding to postpone plans to return because of unpredictable and dangerous road conditions.

Those who cannot go home are requested contact Fisher River Flood Command Center for more information.

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