More people left Peguis First Nation on Tuesday as floodwaters caused further damage in southern and central Manitoba.
“People are tiring and it is a lot of work to try and fight against Mother Nature,” Chief Glenn Hudson said.
“Roads are starting to be breached so it is making it more difficult to get from location to location.”
More than 900 people had left the reserve by Monday after a weekend storm and ice jams caused the Fisher River to swell. Another 200 left Tuesday as the water crept higher.
Most of the evacuees were taken to hotel rooms in Winnipeg, while a small number were sent to Gimli and Selkirk.
Sheri Daniels and her 13-year old daughter are among the evacuees from Peguis First Nation now staying in Winnipeg.
Daniels says she is upset over how preparations for the flood were handled, telling Global News she watched as an empty neighbouring home was built up with sandbags while the home she shares with her father was left unprotected.
“I understand that they’re working hard and everybody’s going through the same thing we are but I think that, you know, the damage is done and it could have been taken care of sooner,” she said outside a Winnipeg hotel Tuesday.
“We knew it was coming. I’m not sure what was going on with the coordination and planning.”
Daniels says water was surrounding her home up to her ankles and there was about a foot-and-a-half in the house when she and her daughter left with only a bag each this week.
Her 71-year-old father decided to stay at their home to protect it.
As well as concerns over her father’s health and whether or not he will have enough food, Daniels fears what she’s going to come home to once the flood waters receded.
“My biggest worry now is the clean up and the mold that’s kind of set in in the basement,” she said.
“It’s going to be a lot of work to get back there and take care of everything. And then we don’t even know how long we’re going to be here.”
Extent of the damage unknown
Like Daniels’ father, many of the 3,500 residents who remained at Peguis First Nation Tuesday were fighting to keep water out of their homes. Hudson said it was too early to assess damage to inundated houses close to the river.
“We don’t know the extent of the damage until (the water) goes down,” he said.
The forecast offered some relief. No rain or snow was expected in the area until the weekend and the provincial government said the Fisher River was expected to start dropping.
“Generally, we would say everything is near-peak or has crested, and should start to come down,” said Chris Propp, acting director of water infrastructure.
“But it just depends on how long it will take to drop.”
Downstream on the Fisher River Cree Nation, where the river empties into Lake Winnipeg, people with higher-risk medical conditions were evacuated from the community earlier in the week.
The highway linking the two reserves was closed Tuesday due to water on the roadway. Premier Heather Stefanson toured some of the flood-threatened areas to the south.
Southern and central Manitoba were hit by heavy snowfall over the winter and then walloped by three spring storms in as many weeks.
Many areas received four to six times the normal amount of precipitation in April, the provincial government said.
The rising water shut down some rural roads in the Red River Valley, as well, including a stretch of Highway 75, the main route that runs from Winnipeg to the United States border.
Communities in the valley are protected by large dikes and ditches that were expanded after the so-called flood of the century in 1997.
–With files from Brittany Greenslade