Manitoba flood evacuees could be out for weeks

Flooding that has left three dozen Manitoba communities under a state of emergency may keep some people out of their homes for a month.

Sask. communities still on high alert

Autumn Alexander pulls her case to the evacuation centre to catch a bus to Winnipeg as her family is evacuated from the Roseau River First Nation, Man., on Sunday. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Flooding that has left three dozen Manitoba communities under a state of emergency may keep some people out of their homes for a month.

The Roseau River First Nation, south of Winnipeg, has been moving its 800 residents off the reserve since Saturday. The most elderly and medically vulnerable residents — 170 in all — were shuttled off the reserve Sunday.

Only 137 people remained by mid-morning Monday, said Howard Nelson, a Roseau River band member helping co-ordinate the evacuation. A few will remain behind to monitor the flood.

The CBC's Wab Kinew reported from the flood centre at the Roseau River First Nation that councillors and flood officials are "expecting that the revised forecast on the river will mean that the people here will only have to be out of their homes for about a week."

Nelson said pumps were being used to get water out of almost 30 flooded basements in low-lying areas.

The evacuees are staying in hotels in Winnipeg, and arrangements have been made with schools in the city for children to continue their academic year.

Water from the Marais River covers Highway 201 into Roseau River First Nation on Sunday. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

"A lot still didn't want to leave, but it's better to be safe than sorry," Nelson told CBC News. "Their lives were potentially at risk." 

The total number of evacuees province wide is now at least 1,772 with the number expected to climb.

Most evacuees have been moved because of unsafe road access to their homes. There are 77 provincial roads affected, and 52 of them are closed. Approximately 650 municipal roads are shut.

Flood warnings continue for areas of the Souris, Carrot and Assiniboine rivers.

Helping hands abound

Despite the stress, Manitobans say they are grateful for the help they're getting from neighbours and strangers alike.

Valerie Bergen of Souris has watched as people pump water and fill sandbags to keep the swollen Souris River at bay.

Bergen says every time there is a need, volunteers just show up.

Six-year-old Cory Little John sits on a bus after being evacuated from the Roseau River First Nation on Sunday. (John Woods/Canadian Press)

Bergen said that on Saturday, one man helped "that had just gotten his citizenship the previous Wednesday, and there he was saving the town."

In Saskatchewan, many communities continue to be on high alert for flooding, but water levels in some areas are starting to level off.

Warm weekend weather did not have as big an impact on flood zones as some had feared, though the Qu'Appelle Valley is still seeing surges of water.

About 15 communities in the province have declared a state of emergency due to the flooding. 

With files from The Canadian Press