Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Overland flooding forces Peguis residents to leave

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PEGUIS First Nation declared a state of emergency when overland flooding led to the voluntary evacuation of 255 people with another 500 expected to leave the Interlake First Nation of 7,000 by Wednesday evening.

Some 160 homes are reported to be surrounded by flood water. Homeowners are in a race to keep their pumps ahead of the rising Fisher River and the main highway into the area is covered with water.

Hundreds of volunteers are filling sandbags at Peguis flood headquarters. Peguis is located 220 kilometres north of Winnipeg.

Meanwhile, Assembly of First Nations National Chief Shawn-A-in-chut Atleo issued a statement of solidarity Wednesday with Manitoba First Nations battling flood waters.

"The AFN fully supports the citizens and leadership of Lake St. Martin First Nation, Little Saskatchewan First Nation and Peguis First Nation," said Atleo. "These communities are already grappling with difficult living conditions and health issues caused by years of flooding.

"This is now a chronic, annual problem and the people need and deserve action to prevent flooding."

Lake St. Martin and Little Saskatchewan First Nation are about 280 kilometres north of Winnipeg. Indian and Northern Affairs Canada is working with the communities to build some temporary clay dikes.

The province has ordered an immediate study on flood impacts at the Lake St. Martin, where leaders say the ground is super-saturated from the chronic release of flood waters through water control structures.

-- staff

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 14, 2011 A4

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