05/11/2014 11:48 EDT | Updated 07/11/2014 05:59 EDT

Kashechewan evacuees arrive in Thunder Bay

The first of 600 evacuees from Kashechewan First Nation in northern Ontario have arrived in Thunder Bay.  

High water levels in the Albany River have threatened the James Bay-area community since last week. On Saturday, Kashechewan re-declared a state of emergency after cancelling it on Friday.

"Conditions can change very, very quickly in these situations," said Thunder Bay fire chief John Hay, speaking for the city's emergency operations group.   

Hay said about 150 "stage one" evacuees [the elderly, people with medical issues and children] arrived by plane on Saturday evening, with up to 450 more expected to arrive throughout the day on Sunday.   

The flooding could force up to 2,000 people to leave Kasechewan First Nation. Emergency Management Ontario is working with other communities in the province, including the municipality of Greenstone in northwestern Ontario, to host evacuees as required.

Evacuation has become a familiar spring event in Kashechewan. Last year, Thunder Bay housed about 150 evacuees due to flooding.

Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins-James Bay, told CBC News that "year after year the community suffers damage and deep trauma from the spring flooding."

"Last year 40 homes were badly damaged because the sewage infrastructure failed as the water rose," Angus wrote in an email. "Those 40 homes are again filled with sewage."