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Kashechewan First Nation preparing for mass evacuation amid flood threat

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The residents of Kashechewan First Nation are in a race against time, preparing for a mass evacuation as the relentless threat of flooding from the Albany River looms closer.

"These are people who are obviously going through a tough time having to uproot themselves and their families," said Joseph Sayers, the general manager of Missanabie Cree Business Corporation.

"More than 600 people will be evacuated to communities throughout the province. Many will find refuge in Timmins, Kirkland Lake, and Barrie, with several flights scheduled to transport families on Tuesday," said Sayers. "Of course, trying to retain the family unit in the process will require additional accommodation for their family support to not only the elderly but also people going through chronic and prenatal care."

In Kachechewan First Nation, flooding has become a yearly occurrence for nearly a decade, with residents facing the threat of flooding during the spring melt each year.

Despite the yearly hazard, the trauma and pain of leaving home at any moment remain fresh.

"No matter how many times you evacuate, it's a scary situation," said Serena Kenny, community and cultural recreation chief with Missanabie Cree First Nation in Maskwa.

In Barrie, organizations are hard at work preparing for the arrival of dozens of families. Many of them have health conditions and will receive care at Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.

"Many will spend two weeks at a Barrie hotel, where a range of services will be provided by the ISN Maskwa and the Red Cross, offering food and access to health care," said Serena Kenny, community and culture chief with Missanbie Cree First Nation Maskwa.

Flights are scheduled for Tuesday, each accommodating around five to 60 passengers.

The region received more snow and rain on Monday, increasing the risk of flooding. Emergency crews will monitor the situation closely over the next few days.

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