Flood threat prompts First Nation evacuation

A flood threat has prompted the evacuation of the Roseau River First Nation, 100 kilometres south of Winnipeg.
The threat of floods in Manitoba may force hundreds more people to leave their homes, Gosia Sawicka reports from the community of Morris 2:32


  • Manitoba government promises financial assistance

A flood threat has prompted the evacuation of the Roseau River First Nation, 100 kilometres south of Winnipeg.

There are plans to relocate approximately 850 people. About 170 had left by Saturday afternoon, while the rest were expected to leave Sunday and Monday.

Flood co-ordinator Howard Nelson said the band council has determined the reserve could be cut off at any time. He's worried its permanent ring dike could breach, flooding the community in as little as 15 minutes.

"According to the water levels we've been getting, we probably will lose our remaining access on the east side, so we called a full evacuation," he said.

Across the province, about 1,100 people have left their homes, primarily as a result of losing safe road access to homes.

Many of the evacuees are First Nations residents.

Financial aid

There will be a disaster financial assistance program in response to this year's flood, the Manitoba government says.

Assistance is typically available for such things as evacuation costs, as well as for non-insurable damage to property such as homes, farm buildings or businesses. Manitobans are encouraged to seek assistance through insurance claims.

Details about the program are available through the province's emergency measures organization.

The Red, Assiniboine and Souris rivers have overrun their banks in some places. Provincial officials say about 650 municipal roads are closed and there are states of emergency in 30 municipalities.

The flood fight along the Souris River is intensifying downstream of Melita, which is currently at crest.

Provincial flood officials say in the town of Souris, the Souris River and intersecting Plum Creek are likely to crest at the same time, which could be as soon as tomorrow. That would lead to water levels similar to the record- breaking flood of 1976.

On Saturday, three homes along Plum Creek were being sandbagged, and more tube dikes and Hesco barriers were set up.

Near The Pas, ice jams on the Carrot River are threatening homes; about 30 were being sandbagged near the Bracken Dam.

South of Winnipeg, officials said, there have been a handful of precautionary evacuations in the Rural Municipality of Morris. Some people living in Morris are staying at hotels or with relatives this weekend because Highway 75, the main road into town, is completely washed out, leaving some homes inaccessible.

The town's homes are protected by a dirt dike, but the surrounding fields are now massive pools of water.

The dike is also causing headaches for truckers in this area of southern Manitoba who are trying to reach the United States. They have to take 100 kilometres in detours to reach the border.

Church attendance suffers

The flooding also means churches across the Prairies will likely have fewer worshippers on Easter Sunday.

Rev. Mary Gavin of St. John's Anglican Church in Fort Qu'Appelle, Sask., said the rising water in the Qu'Appelle River Valley means parishioners may not make it to services on Sunday.

Ron Cox, mayor of the nearby resort village of B-Say-Tah on the shores of Lake Echo, said he missed the Good Friday service because he was simply too worn out from heaving sandbags all day, and he anticipates he may have to miss the Sunday services as well.

Water levels on Lake Echo have been rising all week, and the Saskatchewan Watershed Authority says levels on the Qu'Appelle River are still going up.

In Regina, city workers continued to deal with flooding from the Wascana Creek, where a body was pulled from the strong current on Friday afternoon. Police have released few details abut the discovery, only to say that the body was male and that the coroner was investigating.

The watershed authority said it believed the creek would be nearing its peak Saturday or Sunday.

With files from The Canadian Press