By Steve Lambert, The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — About 200 more people left Peguis First Nation on Wednesday and dozens of workers poured into the community as floodwaters continued to threaten it and other areas of Manitoba.
The Fisher River had come up a little overnight before appearing to stabilize, but the rise left more homes surrounded by water or with water inside, Chief Glenn Hudson said.
“We have probably in the order of 700 (homes) that have been impacted,” Hudson said.
“We even had a fire at one (trailer) because the heater underneath was flooded out and it shorted.”
Many of those who remained were using boats to ferry people and supplies, along with an ultra-large all-terrain vehicle with giant wheels.
Some 75 workers from the First Nation Community Response Corp., under contract with the federal government, arrived in Peguis to help as crews worked on sandbags, temporary portable dikes and other measures to try to hold the water back.
“I’ve never seen it this bad in my lifetime,” said James Favel, head of the corporation. He is originally from Peguis and has lived for years in Winnipeg.
“We’re probably going to be delivering food via canoe … and then we’re going to be filling sandbags and putting sandbags out.”
Favel and his crews also helped rescue a cat from the top of a utility pole and captured the moment on video.
“The poor little girl whose cat (it is), she was just crying. They were reunited and everybody’s happy.”
More than 1,400 people have left the community of 3,500 since Saturday. Most of them are staying in Winnipeg, about 160 kilometres to the south.
Many parts of the province are dealing with high water after a heavy winter snowfall and three spring storms in as many weeks.
The town of Arborg, southeast of Peguis, closed off its main highway intersection due to flooding. Large pumps were moving the water into the Icelandic River.
Further south, sections of the main highway between Winnipeg and the United States border have been closed, forcing drivers to take long detours around the swollen Red River.
The weather was providing some relief. After three days without precipitation, the Fisher River through Peguis appeared to have levelled off. About 15 kilometres upstream, the river had dropped about 20 centimetres, Environment Canada data indicated.
Peguis still had melting snow, which was adding to the river water coming from the south.
In Winnipeg and the Red River Valley, the water is not expected to crest until next week. In some areas, the river has grown into a lake covering rural roads and farmland.
But unlike Peguis, communities in the Red River Valley are protected by dikes and diversion channels that allow homes and businesses to stay dry.