181 Manitoba First Nation evacuees remain displaced from latest floods

181 Manitoba First Nation evacuees remain displaced from latest floods

Two dozen flood evacuees from the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation have returned home, several days after overland flooding forced them out of the community, but nearly 200 others remain displaced across the province, says the Canadian Red Cross.

The 25 Sioux Valley residents, who had to leave the southwestern Manitoba community on Sunday night and stay in hotels in Brandon, Man., were allowed back into their homes around midday Tuesday.

"They would have probably have just returned within the last half hour to go home after bridge access was back and active," Cailin Hodder, senior manager of the Red Cross's disaster management program in Manitoba, told CBC's Radio Noon program.

Hodder said a total of 181 flood evacuees from the Peguis and Long Plain First Nations remain out of their homes as of Tuesday. Red Cross members are based at hotels in Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg to provide lodging, food and support.

"These are volunteer teams that are registering evacuees, they're ensuring that families are reunified following the evacuation, and then just making sure that all basic needs are met — so they have a roof over their head tonight in a hotel, that they're properly fed and have any hygiene items or children's items that they may need," she said.

Most of the evacuees are from the Peguis First Nation, with 146 members staying in hotels in Winnipeg, the Red Cross says. Thirty-five evacuees from the Long Plain First Nation are staying in hotels in Portage la Prairie.

"This is not the first time that Peguis First Nation has dealt with flooding, and I feel that really deep in my heart right now for them because some of these individuals we've seen year after year now, so it really does affect them," Hodder said.

While some homes at Peguis have flooded basements, Hodder said the main issue is access to essential services.

"So looking at Long Plain First Nation, a road has really been wiped out from flooding, and although you may not see water over the road, what you see is a very unstable road, and that means that families that live on the end of that road have limited access to emergency access."

The Red Cross is providing disaster assistance to the First Nations as part of an agreement it has with the federal government.

In addition to helping flood evacuees, Hodder said the Red Cross is helping the remote community of Brochet, which lost its only grocery store to fire on Sunday.

"This can be quite devastating … when it's the only Northern Store in a remote community, so we've been working very closely with the North West Company and the community itself," she said.

A shipment of supplies is being flown to the community on Tuesday, including non-perishable food products, hygiene supplies and infant formula.