Peguis evacuees fleeing Fisher River flood speak of devastating loss

Karen Courchene Parisian left her dog and a water-filled home behind and headed to Winnipeg after her sump pump stopped working and the sandbag dike around her Peguis First Nation house was breached.

She had no time to pack and had to leave one of her dogs, Diesel, behind. He wouldn’t get in the car, and the roads were being washed out quickly.

“Am I going to be homeless? That’s an unknown right now,” Courchene Parisian said. “It’s devastating. It’s a loss, right? It’s just a very difficult time.”

Hundreds of evacuees from Peguis First Nation have arrived in Winnipeg after fleeing their flooded community.

Local officials issued a mandatory evacuation order on Sunday, as the river washed out roads and breached dikes.

Courchene Parisian’s house is on the main highway and a fair distance from the river, but on Saturday morning, she woke up to water in the house after her sump pump stopped working.

| People forced out of flooded Peguis First Nation arrive in Winnipeg:

People forced out of flooded Peguis First Nation arrive in Winnipeg

Hundreds of people from Peguis First Nation are settling into hotels in Winnipeg, not knowing when they will see their homes again. Many arrived in the city yesterday after flood waters breached the sandbags surrounding homes. 1:50

With help from the community flood centre, Courchene Parisian’s pump was fixed and sandbaggers built a dike around the house.

But when the wind shifted, the river started flowing over the highway and into her house. The water reached the top of the stairs on the lower level.

She’s staying at a Winnipeg hotel for now, with her children and grandchildren, unsure of when she’ll be able to return home.

At the Hilton hotel in Winnipeg, the Red Cross has set up a command centre for evacuees to coordinate hotels and meals.

Karen Courchene Parisian is one of more than 1,000 people from Peguis First Nation who were forced to flee their homes due to flooding. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Cheryl Spence arrived in Winnipeg around midnight on Monday. 

“It was quite stressful with two truckloads and our seven kids,” Spence said.

One of her kids just finished cancer treatment in the city, and because she’s vulnerable to getting sick, the family couldn’t evacuate via public transport.

With the help of her extended family, Spence was able to safely evacuate with her children.

It’s not the first time the family has been evacuated due to flooding. Peguis First Nation dealt with major flooding in 2009, 2011 and 2014. Some evacuees from previous floods are still displaced from their homes.

Chief Glenn Hudson told CBC’s Marcy Markusa that this year’s flood is “probably one of the worst on record.”

More evacuees from Peguis are expected to arrive in the coming days.

Courchene Parisian is trying to stay positive. Later Monday afternoon, her dog, Diesel, was rescued from the house by paramedics.

When she can return home, she’ll take it one day at a time.

“As soon as I can go back into the community, I’ll go clean up, do the best I can do there, you know? You just gotta keep moving forward.”

| Flood waters surround homes in Peguis First Nation:

Flood waters surround homes in Peguis First Nation

Drone footage from the community shows water breaching tiger dams in Peguis First Nation on Monday afternoon. 0:54

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