Sioux Valley watching Assiniboine River as Highway 21 washes out

1 / 3
Sioux Valley watching Assiniboine River as Highway 21 washes out

The sandbagging and some evacuations have begun on the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation in Manitoba after a quick increase in flowing water on the lower Assiniboine River on Friday.

George Blacksmith was one of the last people to drive on Highway 21, the main road into Sioux Valley, before water forced its closure.

"There was water on the west lane and it was about a little after 9 a.m. By the time I came back onto the reserve at 12 o' clock the water was completely over the 21," Blacksmith said. "About four inches of water."

The First Nation, located about 260 kilometres west of Winnipeg, is preparing for the rising water and lack of accessibility that comes with it.

The community's flood co-ordinator Nathan Hall said they've been working around the clock "sandbagging and getting more pumps out because the water rose so quickly."

A family of five was forced from their home after their basement flooded out Friday morning, he added, saying they are working with the Canadian Red Cross. Nine dialysis patients were also relocated to Brandon to ensure access to care.

"Our concern is getting emergency response teams in and out to get them – like ambulance and police – that's our concern so we thought it was a good idea to move them in until the water goes down again," he said.

On Friday afternoon, Doug McMahon, assistant deputy minister of Manitoba Infrastructure, said the Assiniboine River forecast has been revised and the flow downstream of the diversion will reach 15,000 cubic feet per second as early as April 10.

"The Assiniboine and areas in the west and south are now being closely watched," McMahon said.

As of Friday morning, there were 15 local states of emergency, mostly in the southwest part of the province and the Red River and Pembina River areas.

So far, 291 people have been forced by flooding to leave their homes. All but six of those people are from First Nations, and they are staying in hotels in Brandon, Portage la Prairie and Winnipeg.

- ANALYSIS Flood 2017: Manitoba's hotspots and where the worst is yet to come

There is a lot of "nervous stress" in the Sioux Valley Dakota Nation, Hall said.

"We have a pretty decent plan in place but it's just a matter of what's next to happen," he added.

When Lisa McKay looks out into her yard she now sees the river. As the water creeps closer her family is preparing to sandbag.

"I guess it was expected, you know, but I didn't expect it to come up so quick," she said.

In 2014 and 2011 the community was impacted by flooding, forcing people from their homes. McKay said her house survived both without any damage and she's hopeful that will also be the case this year —  but she's preparing just in case.

"Right now we are getting things packed up. I don't know," she said.

"It's really hard to say. I think we are going to get evacuated but I'm not going to count on it right now."