‘We can’t come home’: Peguis First Nation evacuees tally up flood damages

Floodwaters have receded in Manitoba’s Interlake and some of the Peguis First Nation evacuees are heading home to clean up and asses the damage.

Around 100 community members returned to move sandbags and tear down tiger dams.

Read more: Whiteshell evacuees face ‘overwhelming’ amount of water, province says

Despite the evacuation order remaining in effect, Peguis resident and evacuee Sarah Flett says she came back on her own weeks ago, only to find debris and garbage cluttering the community.

“It was devastating, heartbreaking … it took a toll on everybody and it’s still taking a toll. Some people don’t have homes to come home to now.”

Read more: Worst flood in Peguis First Nation history has leaders seeking federal aid

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Peguis officials have previously estimated up to 700 homes sustained damage during the flood, including 200 that may be completely destroyed.

While Flett’s home survived, Peguis resident Candace Sutherland wasn’t so lucky.

“It’s too late,” she says. “Everything is gone.”

Read more: Whiteshell evacuees face ‘overwhelming’ amount of water, province says

After evacuating the area and bouncing between five Winnipeg hotels, Sutherland returned to find the majority of her belongings bobbing in the water.

“We can’t come home,” she says. “We have no heat, we have no hot water, we’re just trying to keep the house.”

With the area being a known flood zone, Sutherland says the damage could have been prevented.

Sutherland believes Peguis was a low priority amongst leaders.

While some community members have started to return, officials said residents should wait until they’ve been contacted to come back.

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