Peguis First Nation crews bolster flood protection in anticipation of more rain


With more rain expected this week, flood control in Peguis First Nation takes on renewed urgency today, with crews working quickly to build dikes and sandbags around homes.

Water levels in the community have dropped in recent days, enough that a tractor-trailer was able to make a delivery to the local grocery store.

But rain in the forecast has residents worried that water levels could rise again.

The province’s flood forecaster met with community leaders on Sunday, telling them that with the additional rainfall, the area could see water levels rise 30 centimeters or more, Chief Glenn Hudson said.

That prompted the First Nation to add more sandbags and reinforce Tiger dams around homes, he said.

A big part of the reason the water is shut off is that the community has closed the main road every night to pump the water from one side of the road to the other, where it flows to the river .

The First Nation closes its main road every night to pump water. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

It’s really helped bring the levels down, Hudson said, but people are burning out.

“We have a lot of people who are tired, tired, but we keep pushing forward to protect our home and our communities. So that’s the only right thing for us to do.”

Teams working 10 days in a row

Sandbag crews have been hard at work for ten days now, trying to save as many homes as possible.

Kiwedin McPherson led one of the crews at Peguis. On Monday, he said they hoped to ransack at least five houses.

“We are guaranteed to save as many homes as possible,” he said.

“It’s expensive, but with our crew, we change whenever someone needs a break. We always help each other.”

On Monday, Kiwedin McPherson was busy picking up sandbags in Peguis First Nation. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

For the past 10 days, Terron Wilson has been in the community checking on people’s homes and pets they couldn’t take with them, or bring supplies to people.

Things got risky for him and a teammate when his ATV started sinking in water a few days ago. He said he had to jump into chest-deep water to get him out.

“I mean, it was nothing but a laugh when I got back here. I’m safe, I’m fine. So that’s all that matters, isn’t it?”

Nearly 2,000 evacuees

On Monday, more than 1,800 evacuees fled their homes in Peguis and are now living in hotels in Winnipeg, Gimli, Selkirk and Brandon and Portage la Prairie, according to Indigenous Services Canada.

Peguis has 3,521 members usually living on reserve and 6,504 members living off reserve.

More than 1,800 people have been forced from their homes in Peguis due to flooding. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

More than 700 homes were affected by the flooding, with at least 200 completely surrounded by water and considered uninhabitable.

The flooding has now compromised the community’s septic lagoon, forcing another 40 people to leave on Monday, Hudson said.

Hudson said it will likely be at least a month, if not longer, before residents can return home.

“So we’re asking people to be very patient,” he said.

“A lot of activities are planned, after-school activities for children, for all those who have been evacuated. So, you know, people have done a fantastic job.”

This is not the first time the community has experienced flooding, but it is believed to be one of the worst years in its history.

It is believed to be the worst flooding the Interlake community has ever seen. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

When asked if the province would consider long-term flood protection for Peguis, Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwniuk said Manitoba should work with the federal government and consult with First Nations in the area. .

“We have to look at what happened this time to see what solutions would work together,” he said.

For now, Piwniuk said the province is focused on helping Peguis and other communities get through the spring flood season.