Manitoba

'It's been a trying time': Long Plain recovery continues 2 months after tornado

The leaves are turning colour and there are signs of fall everywhere in Long Plain First Nation. But there are also still many signs of what was a painful summer.

Some evacuees are being moved to Winnipeg again

Roofers lay shingles on a Long Plain First Nation house on Tuesday. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

The leaves are turning colour and there are signs of fall everywhere in Long Plain First Nation. But there are also still many signs of what was a painful summer. 

It's been two months since an EF-1 tornado ripped though the community, about 100 kilometres west of Winnipeg. The storm ripped roofs off of homes, broke trees and destroyed several homes in its wake.

"It's been a trying time," said Long Plain band councilor Liz Merrick. "Most evacuees are now at the Days Inn and the Canad Inns [in Portage la Prairie]." 

Two months later, signs of the tornado are still prevalent. Some homes still have tarps covering holes in roofs while some driveways lead to nothing but a cement pad. Among the 150 homes that were damaged some have water and mould problems.

It's all taken an emotional toll on those who have been living in hotels for the past two months.

"It's been hectic," said evacuee Cheryl Myran. "The kids just started school and we're also getting moved to Winnipeg."
Cheryl Myran, along with her 7 kids and one grandchild, are staying in a Portage la Prairie hotel. (Riley Laychuk/CBC )

Kids to attend Winnipeg school 

Myran, her seven kids and one grandchild, are currently staying in a Portage la Prairie hotel. The kids are getting bussed to Long Plain daily for school, but not for much longer.

Myran and five of her kids are being moved to Winnipeg this Friday in order to attend school at the Lake St. Martin school in Winnipeg. Myran said she's been told she could be there until late October at the earliest. 

The move is due to previous bookings and events at the two Portage hotels, said Myran.
A tarp still covers part of a roof in Long Plain First Nation. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Long Plain struck a partnership with Lake St. Martin so the 40 children who are out of their homes continue their education while being temporarily moved to the city. Seventy families, or about 200 people, remain out of their homes. 

Myran said it's going to be a lot of change for her kids, who are still dealing with the fallout.

"Every time a storm comes, they're like 'oh no, there's a tornado, it's going to get us.', she said. "I'm just like like 'oh no'. It's hard."

She said the kids miss the grass and the open space where they can run around.

Merrick said the band is working on setting up counseling for evacuees and other community members who were traumatized by the storm. 

Some belongings saved 

Myran's home had part of its roof ripped off and also has water damage inside. She was able to save some of her belongings but isn't taking them to Winnipeg. 

"We had to actually take our stuff to our storage pod on the reserve," she said. "It's just one of the obstacles we have to go through today with all of this."

Merrick said the hope is to have most families back in their homes by Christmas, but some may be out well into the New Year. Roofing and restoration crews are common sights in the community and security crews monitor vacant homes overnight. 
The leaves are turning colour and there are signs of fall everywhere in Long Plain First Nation. But there are also still many signs of what was a painful summer. 1:16

Damaged homes have also had new locks installed. 

Merrick said the band is trying their best to get families home as soon as possible and while she said the progress seems slow, it is moving along. 

Myran is just trying to make the best of the situation. 

"It's kind of frustrating," she said. "But you kind of it get used to it."