‘It’s very gut wrenching’: Receding waters bring little relief for flooded Peguis First Nation

PEGUIS FIRST NATION –

Floodwaters are receding in Peguis First Nation after historically high water levels forced many from their homes, but with more rain in the forecast, the community isn’t feeling any relief.

Debris floats to the top of Cheryl Thomson’s basement in her home in Peguis First Nation. She says her Sundance drums, pipes and buffalo rope are all underwater.

When the First Nation began evacuating the community, Thomson stayed behind to help save homes. Now she said she needs help.

“Nobody’s been here to check on me or to see if I needed anything, so it’s very hard,” Thomson told CTV News.

She said she is down to her last jug of water and her flooded yard means she cannot use her well. Her basement flooded and the water kept rising into her kitchen and for a time she lost power.

“It’s the smell that’s starting to get to me,” she said, looking down at household items that are now floating in the water that has flooded her home.

“Each day you just keep your spirits up and do what you got to do to get through it.”

Volunteers are sandbagging her home and will begin pumping the water out of her basement.

“I’d say it’s ten times worse than what happened in Lake St Martin. It’s nothing I’ve seen,” said Ricardo Traverse, who was volunteering in the sandbagging effort.

He said they are racing against the clock, watching for more rainfall.

Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson is expecting cleanup and further flood protections to cost $100 million.

“It’s very gut wrenching when it comes down to seeing these homes, seeing our community in the shape that it is,” Hudson said.

Amid the overland flooding, the First Nation along with Indigenous Services Canada and the Canadian Red Cross has been leading a full evacuation of the community members affected by the overland flooding, affecting nearly 1,900 people. The evacuees are staying in hotels in Winnipeg, Gimli, Selkirk, Brandon, Fisher Branch, and Portage la Prairie.

Jason Small, a spokesperson for the Red Cross, told CTV News in an email while most of the people are staying in Winnipeg, Small said the Red Cross is losing a number of hotel rooms in the city over the weekend and is having to move some people to hotels in Brandon.

“The decision to use the hotel capacity in Brandon and Portage was done in consultation with Peguis First Nation community leadership,” Small said in an email.

The First Nation’s chief said two evacuated residents, an elder and a young woman, have died away from home. He said one evacuated home burned down as it was surrounded by floodwater.

“Things are very real in terms of whether they are actually going to be back home,” Hudson told CTV News. “To us, Peguis is home.”

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