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People on James Smith Cree Nation moved to hotels over Sask. flood concerns

Wally Burns said a state of emergency was declared Tuesday afternoon, motivated mainly by deteriorating conditions on the road on the southern part of James Smith Cree Nation. File / Global News

About 100 people from the James Smith Cree Nation will be relocated to hotels in nearby Melfort, Sask., as a precaution over flood risks in the area.

Chief Wally Burns said a state of emergency was declared Tuesday afternoon, motivated mainly by deteriorating conditions on the road on the southern part of the reserve.

He said on the weekend, things were so bad an ambulance got stuck, then the tow truck called out to help got stuck, and then the RCMP who responded to that call got stuck.

READ MORE: Extreme ice build-up on river closes bridge north of White Fox, Sask.

He said the spring thaw has made roads muddy and nearly impassable, putting access to emergency services at risk.

Burns said health staff has been going door to door to ensure everyone on their records is accounted for and aware of what is happening.

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Diabetic people and those with health issues are a high priority.

Burns said the Red Cross and Emergency Social Services did not have to be called in but the province has been consulted and provincial officials will be on the ground in the community on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Heavy snowpack raises spring melt concerns in southeastern Saskatchewan

Based on information provided by the premier’s office, Emergency Management and Fire Services will be able to support “with pumps to move water and vehicles with water tanks to supply water to their cisterns.”

Burns said two homes are at risk and another is constantly pumping water out of the basement.

They’ve had similar flooding issues in the past. Two years ago, the same road was flooded out, Burns says.

They had been working to build their roads higher, but crews started too late in the fall “so dealing with the factors of the material that was wet and putting it on the road, it never really did anything but made it worse this spring.”

The nation has an on-reserve population of about 1,800 people.

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