About $1M spent replacing fridges, freezers in 2 evacuated First Nations: Red Cross
Spoiled food, chemical leakage means about 800 appliances have to be flown to 2 communities
Cargo planes started shipping hundreds of fridges and freezers on Sunday to two Manitoba First Nations that remain evacuated due to wildfires.
The Canadian Red Cross said it's spent about $1 million so far replacing about 800 appliances in Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nation. It said the appliances needed to be replaced because when a wildfire knocked power out in the communities last month, food started to rot and chemicals began leaking.
More than 1,400 people from the two communities remained in Winnipeg hotels Sunday while crews work to restore power and discard spoiled food and the ruined appliances in the fly-in First Nations. "It's obviously a huge job to get up and running," Feely said.
Manitoba Hydro hopes to have power back on in both First Nations by June 22. Crews are finishing repairs to hydro systems and rebuilding a sub-transmission line into the area that was destroyed by forest fires.
Hydro spokesperson Scott Powell called it a "massive task" and said there is a chance work could be delayed due to weather or availability of aircraft but as of Sunday crews were on track to meet the June 22 completion date.
Feely said the evacuation of the two communities to date has cost upwards of $8-9 million and that number is expected to grow.
The new fridges and freezers started being loaded into cargo planes Sunday afternoon and are being flown to Little Grand Rapids and some will then be taken by helicopter to Pauingassi, which doesn't have an airport with a landing strip big enough for the planes.
Many evacuees had meat and fish they harvested themselves stored in freezers that spoiled. The Red Cross said it'll provide residents with the means to replace lost food but that doesn't necessarily mean they'll be given cash.
It's expected to take two to three days for the new fridges and freezers to make their way to the two First Nations.