Residents of the village of Cumberland House and the Cumberland House Cree nation are on the move as raging flood waters from Alberta make their way downstream and through Saskatchewan.
It is not known when the Cumberland Lake will peak, but Saskatchewan Water Security Agency officials say when it does, the only access road to the community will be flooded out.
Today, residents of the village and the nearby reserve are completing the evacuation of both communities.
Duane McKay, the commissioner of emergency planning for the province, says some emergency workers will stay behind:
“They will be doing things like maintaining dikes, doing security checks and so on. That number is undetermined at this point, but they will stay in the community. The rest of the people will be evacuated out.”
McKay says it will likely be at least two weeks before they can return home.
In the meantime, the evacuees, which could number more than 2,000, will be housed in a number of communities including Saskatoon, Melfort, Nipawin and Prince Albert.
Linda Korney with the Ministry of Social Services says more accommodations will be found if needed:
“If there is a large number of folks that show and the shelters do fill up, we do have capacity in Regina that would be able to house them so that everybody will have shelter and food.”
Stanley Budd is one of the evacuees who was sent to Prince Albert.
He says the word is they could be out of their homes for awhile:
“It was just coming up. It wasn’t too high when we left — but now it’s really coming up, I guess. That’s what I heard.”
More evacuees are expected to arrive at the SIAST gymnasium in Prince Albert today.
Another threat today is the water intake for North Battleford.
Emergency crews are working to try to prevent flood waters from contaminating the community’s drinking water supply.
On a positive note, flows into Lake Diefenbaker have peaked at slightly lower levels than expected, but they are still at record highs.
Water security officials are controlling the lake level by releasing huge volumes of water from the Gardiner Dam.