Power restored to some communities evacuated after storm, but many can't return just yet
Little Saskatchewan First Nation had power Wednesday, must wait for running water
Many First Nations communities that were evacuated after the Thanksgiving weekend storm have already returned to their homes but some have a bit of a longer wait.
The Interlake Reserves Tribal Council said the majority of members from four of six affected communities have returned home, but Dauphin River and Little Saskatchewan First Nations are still displaced.
Little Saskatchewan First Nation, a community 223 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg on Lake St. Martin, had their power restored Wednesday evening, but their roughly 400 evacuees won't be going home until the middle of next week.
"They want to come home. It's very stressful for young children, right now they are in hotel rooms," said Little Saskatchewan First Nation Coun. Leroy Thompson.
"It's been frustrating and people just want to come home."
Thompson said while power is back on, there's no running water. The community relies on a neighbouring First Nation's water treatment plant which ran dry during the power outage and will take a few days to get up and running.
'Part of the concern is the cleanup'
Pamela Shorting has been out of her home in Little Saskatchewan since the storm hit.
"We left with maybe two or three sets of clothes … I didn't think we were going to be out this long," she said.
Shorting says while things have improved over the last week and a half, things got off to a rocky start.
"It was chaos, children crying, people confused, elderly standing outside, sitting outside, some in wheelchairs," said Shorting.
She's changed hotels four times already and is ready to head home, but worries about what's waiting for her and her family.
"Part of the concern is the cleanup," she said.
"I heard from people that were coming from the community saying there was dogs that were electrocuted."
Shorting made a trip back to the community to check on her home and saw how much damage there was.
"Poles down everywhere, lines down everywhere. It was like a war zone, a terrible terrible sight," she said.
She's worried about people not having enough time to clean up before the snow comes again.
"I'm kind of a little bit anxious about going back, I want to be home but I just don't know what's going to be there."
Community impacted in 2011
Back in the community, the cleanup has already begun.
Thompson said he and a few others stayed behind and have been checking on homes and emptying fridges and freezers.
He said some crawl spaces and basements have had water seepage because sump pumps couldn't run.
Little Saskatchewan was one of the communities impacted by the 2011 flood. Thompson said about 200 to 300 people still haven't returned home.
"We're still feeling the effects of the 2011 flood, our people were evacuated for eight years," he said.
Those who had returned home were just starting to get adjusted.
"They were finally starting to settle in, and I guess in their minds they thought we were back to normal," Thompson said.
Shorting, who works in the community's health centre, said she's seeing the impacts of another evacuation.
"I did hear a lot of people feeling anxiety … you know being in the same hotel, following the same kind of things that happened in the past happening again," she said.
"Because of the history I feel like I don't want them to think that this is the norm, that people have to live like this,"