Flood evacuees from Kashechewan airlifted to Thunder Bay

Residents of the James Bay-coast community of Kashechewan were being airlifted to Thunder Bay on Sunday.
Thunder Bay is hosting more than 100 people who have been forced from their homes in Kashechewan because of flooding. (CBC)

Residents of the James Bay-coast community of Kashechewan were being airlifted to Thunder Bay on Sunday.

The First Nation has declared a state of emergency due to flooding of the Albany River. Thunder Bay is hosting about 150 members of the community considered most at risk.

They were to be accommodated at the Victoria Inn, a hotel that indicated it had enough capacity for the entire group.

Flights to Thunder Bay were being co-ordinated by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Thunder Bay Mayor Keith Hobbs signed an emergency declaration after a meeting of the city's Emergency Operations Control Group on Saturday.

A co-ordinating team including various city departments and other community agencies was set up to make the necessary arrangements.

A news release from the city said the team is working directly with the federal department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development to deal with evacuees' requirements as they emerge.

Mayor Hobbs said Thunder Bay is well-prepared.  "With our flood and all the fire evacuations we've done in the past few years, we have a team that's second to none," he said. 

Deputy fire chief Greg Hankkio said initial expectations are that the evacuees will be in Thunder Bay for five to seven days.

Hankkio added, "We're trying to be a good neighbour and a good partner with Emergency Management Ontario and the province. We're more than willing to open our doors to a community in need."

Other municipalities including Kapuskasing, Timiskaming Shores, Sudbury, and Cornwall are also serving as host communities. Last week 240 residents of Kashechewan were taken to Kapuskasing after flooding caused sewer backups in homes.

In northwestern Ontario, the Pic Mobert First Nation has also declared an emergency because of rising waters on White Lake. 

However, Emergency Management Ontario said on its web site Sunday that the community north of Lake Superior had not yet requested provincial assistance, and no evacuations were planned.