Peguis First Nation flood evacuees arrive in Winnipeg


Hundreds of Peguis First Nation evacuees have arrived in Winnipeg after fleeing their flooded community.

Local authorities issued a mandatory evacuation order on Sunday as the river washed away roads and breached levees, such as the one protecting the home of Karen Courchene Parisian.

Courchene Parisian’s home is on the main highway and a good distance from the river, but on Saturday morning she woke up to water in the house after her sump pump stopped working.

With help from the community flood center, the pump was repaired and sandbags built a dike around the house.

But when the wind turned last night, the river started flowing down the highway and into her house. The water reached the top of the stairs on the lower level.

WATCH | People evicted from flooded Peguis First Nation arrive in Winnipeg:

People evicted from flooded Peguis First Nation arrive in Winnipeg

Hundreds of people from the Peguis First Nation are settling into hotels in Winnipeg, unsure when they will see their home again. Many arrived in the town yesterday after floodwaters broke through the sandbags surrounding homes. 1:50

She didn’t have time to pack her bags and had to leave behind one of her dogs, Diesel. He didn’t want to get in the car, and the roads were quickly washed out.

“Am I going to be homeless? It’s an unknown at the moment,” Courchene told Parisian.

“It’s devastating. It’s a loss, isn’t it? It’s just a very difficult time.”

She is staying in a hotel in Winnipeg at the moment, with her children and grandchildren, not knowing when she will be able to return home.

Karen Courchene Parisian is one of more than 1,000 people from Peguis First Nation who have been forced to flee their homes due to flooding. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

At the Hilton Hotel in Winnipeg, the Red Cross has set up an evacuee command center to coordinate hotels and meals.

Cheryl Spence arrived in Winnipeg around midnight Monday.

“It was pretty stressful with two trucks and our seven kids,” Spence said.

One of her children has just completed cancer treatment in the city and, as she is likely to fall ill, the family was unable to evacuate by public transport.

With the help of his extended family, Spence was able to evacuate safely with his children.

This is not the first time the family has been evacuated due to flooding. Peguis First Nation faced major flooding in 2009, 2011 and 2014. Some evacuees from previous floods are still displaced from their homes.

Chief Glenn Hudson told CBC’s Marcy Markusa that this year’s flooding is “probably one of the worst on record”.

More evacuees from Peguis are expected to arrive in the coming days.

Courchene Parisian tries to stay positive. Later Monday afternoon, her dog, Diesel, was rescued from the home by paramedics.

When she can go home, she will take it one day at a time.

“As soon as I can get back to the community. I’ll go clean up, I’ll do my best there, you know? You just gotta keep moving.”

WATCH | Flood waters surround homes in Peguis First Nation:

Flood water surrounds homes in Peguis First Nation

Drone footage from the community shows water-breaking tiger dams in Peguis First Nation on Monday afternoon. 0:54