Angie Flett frantically tries to save her 86-year-old aunt’s house.
Volunteers piled sandbags in front of the Peguis First Nation elder’s home in Manitoba’s Interlake region on Friday, even though floodwaters were already lapping against the home’s foundation.
“She woke up Sunday morning, she said she was surrounded by a lake,” Flett said. Her aunt’s house is across from the Fisher River, which overflowed last weekend.
Her aunt left the community that day, but by the time Flett arrived on Monday, the road to the house was covered.
More than a meter of water flooded the home’s crawl space, destroying personal items such as clothes, shoes, canned goods and the air conditioner.
As of Friday afternoon, 1,590 evacuees fled their homes in Peguis, according to Chief Glenn Hudson, with 700 homes evacuated. Hundreds of these houses are surrounded by water.
On Friday, volunteers showed up to help, building a wall of sandbags in already deep water.
Flett said his aunt’s house was “not as bad as some people’s houses”.
“His house can still be saved, but others couldn’t save their house, and that’s overwhelming,” she said.
“It’s so devastating. So many people have lost their homes. Some don’t have a home to go back to.”
There’s no running water in the house and the circuit breakers keep tripping, Flett said. It has pumps that run 24 hours a day, but the water does not come down.
“It’s just pumping the water out, and it keeps coming,” she said.
“I’m just grateful to all the volunteers and people who have come to the aid of Peguis at this time, because I’ve never seen anything like it.”
The Canadian Red Cross is coordinating evacuation efforts with the First Nation.
People in the community are staying in hotels in Winnipeg, Gimli, Selkirk and Brandon, Indigenous Services Canada said, with more capacity in Portage la Prairie.
About 100 people from the First Nations Community Response Society and the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs have arrived in the community to help with things like cleaning sandbags and monitoring roads.
The federal government contributes to the costs of constructing sandbags and dykes, as well as the equipment needed to help pump the water.
Residents of the Peguis personal care home have been moved to the former South East Resource Development Council alternate isolation accommodation site for treatment, an Indigenous Services spokesperson said on Friday. Canada in an email.
Flood forecasters had some hope on Thursday, who said the Fisher River is expected to recede to its banks by Monday at Peguis First Nation and late next week farther downstream.
Fisaha Unduche, director of the Manitoba Hydrological Forecasting Center, said Thursday that the Fisher River and Icelandic River further south should stop overflowing their banks by May 13 at all points up to Lake Winnipeg.