Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Icebreaker sent in to flooded reserve

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Sapotaweyak Cree Nation residents were in a race building sandbag and earthen dikes to protect more than two dozen homes from a rising river on Friday.

But help is on the way today in the form of the province's Amphidex amphibious icebreaker.

Four dozen residents of the community, 600 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, sandbagged Thursday and through Friday.

Chief Nelson Genaille said on Friday that 31 homes were threatened by the rising waters of the Shoal River while another 30 families with medical issues and senior citizens have been moved to hotels in The Pas and Swan River.

"We're looking at a major catastrophe of a couple of million dollars in houses," Genaille said.

"And now, at a curve in the river, ice is blocking there and making a dam."

Genaille said Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation is monitoring a bridge in the community of about 1,000, while officials from the provincial emergency measures organization are on site assessing the flood threat.

"If the bridge goes, the people over there will be stuck until freeze-over," he said.

Genaille said the reserve declared a state of emergency on Thursday at 10 a.m., when the water in the river began backing up.

The area is downstream from Swan Lake and upstream from Lake Winnipegosis, which both already have high water levels from summer rains.

Paul Guyader, EMO's director of operations, said it's hoped the Amphidex will be able to knock out the ice dam which has formed downstream from the bridge.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 20, 2010 A9

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