Infrastructure fixes to stop flooding on Peguis First Nation badly needed, emergency chief says


All levels of government must come together to help address flood-related infrastructure issues in Manitoba’s largest First Nation, the community’s director of emergency management said.

“There is serious work to be done,” William Sutherland said in an interview on Sunday, as the flood-affected community north of Winnipeg scrambled again to try to shore up structures, roads and homes. of Peguis First Nation as water levels rise from recent rains. .

“There’s a lot of infrastructure work to do,” Sutherland said.

On Thursday, Peguis reinstated a state of emergency due to high winds and rainfall.

Its latest flood fight comes as the community is still assessing how it will pick up the pieces of last month’s flooding.

Around 1,900 evacuees from Peguis have still not returned home – and the community leader has said some of them may not be able to return for two years.

“It was just too risky for people to come back now,” Sutherland said.

William Sutherland, director of emergency management for the Peguis First Nation, says the lack of action on flood protection is frustrating. (Radio Canada)

On Saturday, around 40 homes were affected and around 26 basements were completely flooded – 21 of which had just been cleared after last month’s flood.

Now an additional concern: Sutherland said some community homes now also have roof issues contributing to flooding.

Sutherland said the First Nation is working to put ring dikes and berms in place around homes, but a longer-term solution is needed.

He pointed to a major highway – Route 224 – that runs through the community and is a connection to the south of the province for many communities north of Peguis.

Sutherland said that since he was young, the road has been hit by floodwaters more than 20 times, but the province has not worked to build and protect it.

The lack of attention to the issue is frustrating, Sutherland said.

Community members work to fill sandbags on Peguis First Nation on Sunday – just weeks after some were emptied after floodwaters receded. The rains and high winds again caused flooding in the community. (Radio Canada)

Peguis — Manitoba’s largest First Nation, with 3,521 members ordinarily living on reserve and 6,504 members off reserve — is no stranger to flooding.

In 1907, residents of the former St. Peter’s Reserve were forced onto the floodplain delta where Peguis is today, about 160 kilometers north of Winnipeg.

Federal Northern Affairs Minister Dan Vandal previously said his office had received a copy of Peguis’ proposed long-term infrastructure plans and would work with the First Nation on long-term solutions.

The federal government provided $2.5 million to the First Nation. But Chief Glenn Hudson said more needed to be done soon for long-term flood mitigation measures.

Provincial officials have also promised to work with Peguis leaders and the federal government to improve flood protection in the community, a provincial government spokesperson said last month.