Fisher River rises, causing more damage in flooded Manitoba community

More people left Peguis First Nation on Tuesday as floodwaters caused further damage in southern and central Manitoba.

"People are tiring and it is a lot of work to try and fight against Mother Nature," Chief Glenn Hudson said.

"Roads are starting to be breached so it is making it more difficult to get from location to location."

More than 900 people had left the reserve by Monday after a weekend storm and ice jams caused the Fisher River to swell. Another 200 left Tuesday as the water crept higher.

Most of the evacuees were taken to hotel rooms in Winnipeg, while a small number were sent to Gimli and Selkirk.

The Canadian Red Cross is currently helping to support the hundreds of evacuees with housing and food.

"We have the resources we need for this, but one thing we always need more of is volunteers," said Jason Small, a spokesperson for the Red Cross.

Small said those interested can go to the Red Cross website to find out how they can help in future responses. 

Many of the 3,500 residents who remained were fighting to keep water out of their homes. Hudson said it was too early to assess damage to inundated houses close to the river.

"We don't know the extent of the damage until (the water) goes down," he said.

The forecast offered some relief. No rain or snow was expected in the area until the weekend and the provincial government said the Fisher River was expected to start dropping.

"Generally, we would say everything is near-peak or has crested, and should start to come down," said Chris Propp, acting director of water infrastructure.

"But it just depends on how long it will take to drop."

Downstream on the Fisher River Cree Nation, where the river empties into Lake Winnipeg, people with higher-risk medical conditions were evacuated from the community earlier in the week.

The highway linking the two reserves was closed Tuesday due to water on the roadway. Premier Heather Stefanson toured some of the flood-threatened areas to the south.

Southern and central Manitoba were hit by heavy snowfall over the winter and then walloped by three spring storms in as many weeks. Many areas received four to six times the normal amount of precipitation in April, the provincial government said.

The rising water shut down some rural roads in the Red River Valley, as well, including a stretch of Highway 75, the main route that runs from Winnipeg to the United States border. Communities in the valley are protected by large dikes and ditches that were expanded after the so-called flood of the century in 1997.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 3, 2022.

-with files from CTV News Winnipeg