First Nation community to begin evacuation due to flooding today

Kashechewan dyke. Photo:

The Canadian Press

KASHECHEWAN, Ont. - The evacuation of a remote northern Ontario First Nation is set to begin today as the rapidly rising Albany River threatens the community.

About 600 of the most vulnerable residents in the James Bay community of Kashechewan will be taken to Kapuskasing, Hearst and Smooth Rock Falls.

Chief Derek Stephen says the plan is to have all 1,900 residents leave at different stages in the next week or so.

Stephen adds a dike protecting the community is old, inadequate and a recent engineering assessment showed it is at a “horrible risk of collapsing.”

This is the fourth consecutive year the First Nation has had to be evacuated.

Stephen says the community spent $21 million on the evacuation last year, and millions more on repairs after much of the community had to live elsewhere for about a month.

It’s time to move the entire community to higher ground so they don’t have to do this every spring when the ice thaws and the Albany River rises, Stephen said.

“We cannot continue to live this way,” he said.

© The Canadian Press, 2015

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