Thunder Bay

Kashechewan evacuees housed in two Thunder Bay hotels

Thunder Bay emergency officials say that the length of time the 595 evacuees will remain in the city is unknown.
About 600 Kashechewan residents are now staying in Thunder Bay as the Albany River swells around their community, flooding their homes. (Fort Albany Floodwatch/Facebook)

Thunder Bay emergency officials say that the length of time evacuees from Kashechewan First Nation will remain in the city is unknown.

At a special briefing Monday afternoon they said Kashechewan remains in a state of emergency due to flooding brought on by high water levels on the Albany River.

Thunder Bay is now hosting nearly 600 evacuees from the community located in the James Bay area.

Ruby Wesley — a Kashechewan resident who's gone through this several times before — is now staying at a local hotel with her two children, ages eight and three.

"It's getting frustrating, we have to leave our personal belongings behind, our family members," she said.
Kasheschewan resident Ruby Wesley said she's glad she and her family were flown to Thunder Bay as flood waters threaten her community. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

"Some of them are still there and we don't know where they're going. It's kind of frustrating it has to happen every year. I wish the government could do something about it."

Like many people in Kashechewan, Wesley said she's been evacuated more than once over the years, "probably four or five times."

She added she "was very glad to get out of the community, because I have small ones and I was afraid for their safety."

Thunder Bay 'maxed out'

According to Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, the city is now at capacity and won't be hosting any more evacuees from Kashechewan.

"About 11 o'clock last night we checked in our last guest," said David Paxton, deputy fire chief, Thunder Bay Fire Rescue.

"Now we're into our operations mode and just sustain our efforts here until we figure out how long the flooding is going (last) up in Kashechewan."

Paxton said the aim is to keep evacuees "comfortable."
David Paxton, deputy fire chief with Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, said the city aims to keep the Kashechewan evacuees comfortable as they cope with being displaced from their homes. (Josh Lynn/CBC)

"We try to make it as much as a community for them as we can, just their general needs, medical appointments, trips to and from the pharmacy, needs for the infants and some of the elders, food, a little bit of entertainment if we can arrange it ... just to keep them more comfortable as they've been displaced out of their homes."

The city has "maxed out" its capacity at 595 evacuees, Paxton added. "That's where we've stopped." 

The evacuees are staying at two local hotels.

The Canadian Red Cross reports that it has been working closely with officials to provide support as the flooding situation along the James Bay coast evolves. Trained disaster management volunteers are registering evacuees and providing for personal needs, such as baby supplies and hygiene items.


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