Manitoba First Nations bear brunt of flooding
Published Sunday, April 19, 2009 11:15PM EDT
As the Red River stops rising and officials monitor sandbag dikes in Winnipeg, it appears that many of the flooding victims in the region live on First Nations communities.
So far, about 2,000 people have been forced to flee their homes because of flooding. Around 1,300 of those are from aboriginal communities like Peguis, which is located 145 kilometres south of the provincial capital.
On Wednesday, 740 people from Peguis fled their homes as the Fisher River flooded the low-laying lands around their community.
According to Peguis Chief Glenn Hudson, the community deals with flooding every season, and something must be done to help prevent future floods.
"Either build a dike, or a floodway around ... I think we have to do something," he said.
Local resident Fred Stevenson said the community has been hit especially hard with this year's flooding.
"You get up and all you see is water, and everything around you that you've lost," he told CTV Winnipeg Sunday.
While the Fisher River and other tributaries in the region appear to have crested, the Red Cross is appealing for cash donations as it offers assistance to hundreds of Manitobans who have fled their homes to escape flood waters.
Red Cross officials are registering residents at a reception centre in Winnipeg set up by the municipal and provincial governments.
The organization is also distributing comfort kits, which contain necessities such as toothbrushes that residents who hastily left their homes may have forgotten in the rush.
Cheryl Baldwin, director for the Red Cross Disaster Response Team, said Sunday that cash donations are badly needed if the organization is to help people in need now and continue assisting them after the flooding recedes.
"The Red Cross has said it will be there until the end," Baldwin said during an interview on CTV Newsnet. "We're going on an appeal for donations because of the fact that there will be recovery efforts needed to assist the most vulnerable to get back on their feet again."
Many people who are arriving at the reception centre have told Red Cross officials that they've been sleeping in their cars, unaware that short-term assistance was available to them, Baldwin said.
Overland flooding has soaked the main floors of a number of homes throughout southern Manitoba and made roads impassable.
Near Morris, the river is about 16 kilometres wide, which is well over its average width of 200 metres.
Near Winnipeg, the river measured about 6.4 metres high on Saturday, 0.46 metres below when it crested on Thursday, according to Manitoba's Emergency Measures Organization.
Officials predicted that the river would decline to about 6.2 metres on Sunday.
While the water is slowly receding, the department warns that with normal rainfall, the river could still measure 4.6 metres high in mid-May, and the river could crest again if rainfall is heavy.
Those who want to help residents affected by the flooding can call the Red Cross at 800-418-1111 or visit www.redcross.ca.