With school closed and flooding forced evacuations, Peguis parents make the most of life in limbo | CBC News

Beverley Sumner, 32, lives in a Winnipeg hotel room with her three children after fleeing Peguis First Nation due to increased flooding.

The First Nation family in the Interlake region of Manitoba had less than half an hour to grab everything they needed before boarding an evacuation bus to Winnipeg this week.

“It was really shocking… to see all the houses surrounded by so much water,” he said. “We couldn’t even see the roads… We’ve never seen it like this, ever.”

Peguis declared a state of emergency last week and issued an evacuation order over the weekend as floodwaters from the Fisher River washed out roads and breached levees.

Sumner and his family are among more than 1,300 people who have already left the community. Without transportation and not knowing when they will be able to return, Sumner focuses on trying to keep his children busy.

“They were a little stressed the first couple of nights,” he said, adding that they are beginning to adjust.

The family of four passes the time with walks, games on an iPad and dips in the hotel pool. Sumner says some school supplies are available, but she doesn’t know what will happen with the rest of the school year.

Peguis Central School, which runs kindergarten through 12th grade, is closed as all three access roads are under water, a school board member told CBC News.

Sumner hopes that the evacuees will be able to return home in a few weeks, but there is no certainty.

“It feels a little difficult because we’re not quite sure when or what it’s going to be like when we get back, or if there’s anything to go back to,” he said.

Across town, Myles Spence, 40, is also working to keep his six children busy.

“For my kids, it’s nice for them to come to town and all that, but it’s stressful,” Spence said.

“It’s hard being uprooted from your home and all that, but we’re making the most of it.”

Myles Spence and his family arrived in Winnipeg from Peguis First Nation on Sunday. (Submitted by Myles Spence)

His family arrived in Winnipeg on Sunday night, after floodwaters began to engulf the road to their home.

The family has been housed in a Winnipeg hotel, in two rooms on different floors. Three of the children stay with him and the other three stay with his partner.

“The pool’s been closed since we got here, so that’s a little depressing for them…but it’s nice outside now, so we’ll probably take them to the park.”

The Red Cross supports more than 1,300 Peguis First Nation flood evacuees. The relief organization is coordinating hotels and meals for evacuees staying in hotels in Winnipeg, Selkirk, Gimli and Brandon, or with friends and family, a spokesman said.

The Red Cross is working to set up recreational activities for children and will have more to say soon, the spokesman said.

As for the school, Spence said that after two years of pandemic learning, this is just another disruption they’re dealing with.

His attention is simply focused on getting home.

“We’re probably going to take a break for a while … handle this flood situation,” he said. “Hopefully we can get home soon.”


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