WAYWAYSEECAPPO FIRST NATION — Evacuees with homes in the direct path of a roughly 100-foot embankment are anxiously awaiting what it will mean for their community once it bursts.
Once the embankment fails, it will send rushing water through a valley in Waywayseecappo, which could be disastrous for homes, Highway 45 and other roadways and infrastructure in its path.
So far, the First Nation has had to evacuate nearly 12 homes and a 10-suite seniors complex, affecting 64 people.
Teresa Davis’ blue steel home near Highway 45 was one of the first to receive an evacuation notice on Saturday. She said she only had an hour to pack enough clothes for her and her family for five days and is starting to feel frustrated and worried about having to leave the rest of their belongings behind.
"I want to go home, but I can’t go home yet," Davis said, standing outside her room at the Russell Inn. "I haven’t been there since we left on Saturday.
"It’s a steel house … so I don’t know what kind of effect after would have on it, but I know there will be some kind of damage to it."
Her 17-year-old daughter Katelynn said she’s most worried about her dog, which she had to leave behind with her grandmother.
"I hope we get to go home soon," she said. "I feel like going back."
Elysia Shingoose and her boyfriend, Lehon Bone, and their two young children were evacuated on Sunday. Their house is also near Highway 45, but isn’t situated directly near the valley in the embankment’s path.
Shingoose said she made sure the family had enough things for a few days, but they’re already anxious to learn when they’re going to be able to return home.
"We do need more stuff, but we don’t have transportation to get there and back," Shingoose said. "We’ve got enough to last us four or five days."
Shingoose added their home is on higher ground, but worries how they’ll be able to get to it once the embankment breaks.
"It’s a little different," she said, adding a number of her family members were also evacuated from their homes. "They don’t live right by it, but they still live where the waters going to go."
By Monday afternoon, the size of the lake behind the embankment had doubled since Saturday prompting a visit from Premier Greg Selinger and other provincial officials.
Waywayseecappo Chief Melville Wabash said any help the community could get at this time is crucial.
Wabash said the community was unable to do as much preparation as nearby Birtle due to a lack of available resources in the area.
"We’re trying to take advantage of what time we have," Wabash said. "We’re not sure how long the embankment’s gonna hold."
He said the First Nation is now focusing efforts on sandbagging.
In regards to the evacuees, Wabash said they’re doing what they can to accommodate them.
"People are understanding, people are uneasy about it, but we're trying to do our best to keep them at ease and whatever we can do accommodate the people."