Manitoba

'Everybody's anxious': 1,800 wildfire evacuees wait for flights home from Winnipeg and Brandon

Fewer than 2,000 people forced from their homes due to wildfires in northern Manitoba remain in southern Manitoba after more than 1,300 were flown home over the weekend.

The Red Cross in Manitoba said more than 2 dozen flights were schedule on Monday

People wait to board flights to northern Manitoba at the Brandon Flight Centre on Monday. The Red Cross expects 13 flights to leave Brandon on Monday. (Riley Laychuk/CBC )

Fewer than 2,000 people forced from their homes due to wildfires in northern Manitoba remain in southern Manitoba after more than 1,300 were flown home over the weekend.

At the airport in Brandon, Man., on Monday, people from the Wasagamack and Garden Hill First Nations waited, many anxious but excited, to get on one of 13 flights scheduled to leave Brandon on Monday for St. Theresa Point,  the nearest airport to the communities. 

Another 16 flights were scheduled to depart from Winnipeg. 

"I'm glad to go home to my own reserve," said Josephine Taylor, from Garden Hill. She spent a week in Winnipeg before being moved to Brandon. "Everybody's anxious to go home."  

"I'm tired. I've been sitting here all day," said Sarah Harper, at a nearby picnic table. She's been anxiously waiting for a flight home for three days and has now been in Brandon for three weeks. 

"I'm tired of being here," Harper said. 

Many people have spent weeks either in evacuation shelters in Winnipeg or in hotels across the province, away from the comforts of home. 

"I even missed picking berries and they're probably all gone [now]," said Pat Munroe, also from Garden Hill, adding that she can't wait to get home and cook a good meal. 

"I heard that there's lots of moose meat ready for me back home," Munroe said while waiting outside of the Brandon airport. "Lots ... and fish." 

Munroe and others waiting at the terminal applauded the efforts and hospitality put forth by people in Brandon. While many arrived in Brandon with little more than the clothes on their backs, people had piles of boxes, bags and other containers full of clothes and donations to take home.

"Thank you for your hospitality, Brandon," said Marty Flett, adding that he's anxious to get home and sleep in his bed in Garden Hill.

The Red Cross said about 1,300 people were flown home last weekend and 1,800 remained in Winnipeg and Brandon as of Monday morning. 

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