Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Disaster-hit residents await news on their return date

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Today, the people hardest hit by last week's stormy floodwaters will be able to get some help and some idea of when they can go back home.

"A team of structural experts are going through the first wave of properties at St. Laurent," a provincial government spokesman said Sunday.

Flood Fight

Like Elie, after a devastating tornado hit in 2007, the flood and storm-ravaged RM of St. Laurent has to be inspected, the government official said.

With damaged buildings, materials strewn about, ruined roads and downed hydro lines, officials have to check the 715 evacuated properties in the municipality to see what needs to be done so people can return to them, he said.

"People are getting very anxious," said the government spokesman. The first disbursement of compensation cheques to permanent residents forced from their homes in the RM of St. Laurent can be picked up in Winnipeg and St. Laurent today, he said.

Further details will be released today.

The evacuation zone runs along the lakefront and nearly one kilometre inland.

The re-entry safety inspection team has to give the all-clear signal prior to owners being allowed back into the area. The majority of the affected properties are seasonal, the municipality said.

Right now, as the water recedes in some places, the only ones happy are the seagulls, the provincial official said: "There are carp everywhere."

Meanwhile, evacuees from Lake St. Martinheld a meet-and-greet with Pinawa elected officials Sunday in a meeting that included Aboriginal Affairs Minister Eric Robinson.

Lake St. Martin is the First Nation that's been washed out of its home, likely for good.

"The band chief is going to have a meeting with his community tomorrow. If they think this is something they would like to explore as an alternative to living in hotels in Winnipeg, then they will bring people out here to see for themselves what they would be moving to," said Louise Daymond, editor of the local Pinawa paper.

She reported that the meeting reviewed a proposal to relocate approximately 500 displaced residents from Lake St. Martin to Pinawa, specifically at the Wilderness Edge Resort, for approximately two years.

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition June 6, 2011 B4

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