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Brandon Sun - ONLINE EDITION
Roseau River under siege
Adults stressed but kids enjoy the adventure
AN evacuation can be either stressful and plenty of work or total fun -- it just depends on your age.
For Roxanne Tait, the call to leave Roseau River First Nation on Sunday meant packing up the five children she shares with her husband Jamie Alexander into a minivan, and bringing enough supplies to live out of a suitcase for three to five weeks.
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"It's pretty hard," she said, after registering her family at the Marlborough Hotel. "But we'll get through it. We'll stay positive and stick together."
The kids, though, who range in age from one to nine years old, were having nothing to do with all this work talk. They bounced around the sidewalk and in the hotel lobby like they were on a holiday.
"To them, this is a trip. This is fun for them. They have no idea how serious (the flooding) is," she said.
The Tait/Alexander brood represented a small fraction of the evacuees from Roseau River, located about 100 kilometres south of Winnipeg. About half of its 800 residents arrived in Winnipeg by bus or their own vehicles on Sunday, a day after 200 others proceeded them. The rest will follow today. Another 300 people in the surrounding area are also being evacuated.
That meant for a jam-packed lobby at the Marlborough on Sunday with countless luggage-cart traffic jams. Evacuees were also being put up at the Radisson Hotel and Place Louis Riel.
Howard Nelson, flood co-ordinator for the Red River Valley community, said he and his crew were expecting three buses to help with the evacuation effort on Sunday but were subsequently told they would only have one at their disposal.
"We'll get as much done as we can (Sunday). It will be OK to get the rest out (today)," he said.
Nelson said water levels are one foot higher than they were in 2009 when residents were also forced to leave their homes.
"If the numbers are accurate, we'll more than likely lose all of our access out (of the community). If the water comes over the dike, we would have 15 or 20 minutes to get out. We don't want to take that chance," he said.
Chief Terry Nelson said the first priority was getting children, elders and people with mobility problems out first. A lot of the residents were reluctant to leave their homes behind, he said.
"They're tired of being evacuated. It's a situation that we have to deal with almost every year in the Red River Valley," he said.
Also checking in at the Marlborough were Tait's aunt, Linda Thomas, and her family of seven.
Thomas said after being evacuated four times in the past 14 years, watching the Red River climb up its banks is an annual spring ritual.
"It's difficult when you have to leave your home and everything behind. Our house will be flooded if the dike breaks," she said.
Thomas said keeping a positive attitude is a must if you're going to get through an evacuation with your sanity.
"We're going to keep ourselves busy. It's Winnipeg, I'm pretty sure there's lots to do here. We'll take the kids swimming, go to the zoo, the parks and The Forks," she said. "And maybe play some bingo."
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