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Manitoba First Nations wildfire evacuees able to return home after power restored

Manitoba Hydro previously told Global News repairs between Bloodvein and Little Grand Rapids could take around six to eight weeks to complete. Manitoba Hydro / Supplied, File

Evacuees from a pair of north-eastern Manitoba First Nations are expected to begin returning home soon.

The Canadian Red Cross tells Global News it is coordinating return flights to the communities of Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi First Nation.

More details are expected in the coming days, with transportation expected to begin later in the week.

Read more: More than 2,500 fire evacuees from four First Nations in Manitoba now returning home

The two communities, along with Bloodvein First Nation and Berens River First Nation, were evacuated to Winnipeg in mid-July due to encroaching wildfires.

Some 2,500 people were able to return to Bloodvein and Berens River in August, however, Manitoba Hydro has spent the last several weeks trying to restore power to Little Grand Rapids and Pauingassi.

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At the end of August, the Crown Corporation said there were around 100 poles that needed to be replaced before the lights could be turned back on in the remote areas.

On Sunday, Manitoba Hydro confirmed power had been restored to both communities a day earlier.

Little Grand Rapids Chief Raymond Keeper told 680 CJOB the plan is to get the first 350 residents home Monday and continue from there, with what he said is around 1,000 people in total.

“There’s quite a bit of joy amongst the people this morning, who have been wanting to go home for a long time,” said Keeper.

“Right now, I’m not complaining. I’m just happy to see people coming home. A lot of them have been longing for this moment.”

Keeper said aside from a few houses that were damaged by bears trying to break in, the community should be much as the residents left it.

Click to play video: 'Wait continues for Manitoba wildfire evacuees' Wait continues for Manitoba wildfire evacuees
Wait continues for Manitoba wildfire evacuees – Sep 14, 2021

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