Rising floodwaters have driven members of the First Nation community of Kashechewan, Ont., out of their homes and are threatening to do the same to residents elsewhere in the province and in Saskatchewan.
About 150 residents of Kashechewan, near James Bay, were airlifted to Thunder Bay on Sunday and another 350 went to Cornwall following flooding along the Albany River, Ontario government spokesman Andrew Morrison said. The flights were co-ordinated by the Ministry of Natural Resources after the First Nation declared a state of emergency.
“We're more than willing to open our doors to a community in need,” said Thunder Bay deputy fire chief Greg Hankkio. The evacuees there are staying at a local hotel, and are expected to remain for five to seven days.
Last week 240 residents were taken from Kashechewan to Kapuskasing after flooding caused sewer backups. Other areas in northern Ontario hit by flooding include the First Nation communities of Fort Albany, Attawapiskat, Pic Mobert, Moosonee and Moose Factory.
Declaring an emergency in Moose Factory is “still under consideration,” said Fire Chief Chris Alisappi, though an evacuation now looks unlikely.
Water levels around the island community rose overnight, he said, but the situation is expected to improve as ice breaks up and allows water to flow into James Bay.
“Things are looking better each day,” said Alisappi.
Hundreds on notice in Regina
In Saskatchewan, residents of 340 homes in Regina have been told to be ready to leave as the swollen Wascana Creek, which runs through the city, strains against lines of sand bags and other water barriers.
Sandbagging also continues around the town of Radisson, northwest of Saskatoon, but it appears water levels there are dropping slightly. The province got more snow than usual this winter and colder-than-normal temperatures delayed the spring melt.
Officials expect the entire southern half of Saskatchewan will see run-off levels above or well-above normal.
Near Ottawa, the Township of Whitewater is also recommending the evacuation of some homes and cottages.
Rising levels on the Ottawa River have washed out some roads. The water is expected to crest this weekend, according to Whitewater Mayor Jim Labow.
“The water rose slightly overnight and we have been told that it will crest over the weekend,” Whitewater Mayor Jim Labow told CBC News on Sunday. The water is expected to level off for a week or more and then drop, he added.
Labow said to his knowledge no buildings have been evacuated, noting that many are still-empty seasonal cottages.
“Some of the houses probably have water coming into them,” he noted, though for some “that is almost a yearly occurrence.” In Timmins, people were out on Saturday filling sand bags to hold back the rising waters of the Mattagami River, though water levels appear to have peaked. Statements from the City indicate the river went down on both Saturday night, for the second night in a row.
“Residents living in the flood area should remain vigilant,” the City said in a statement. “Water levels can fluctuate and much of this depends on the weather.”