APTN National News
As fires continue to burn throughout northern Manitoba – community members from across Winnipeg are volunteering their services to help thousands of evacuees.
As of Tuesday, more than 4,300 people from Wasagamack, St. Theresa Point and Garden Hill First Nations had to be flown out of their communities.
Chef Robert Rodericks, also known as the Ghetto Chef, used his talents to cook up a special meal for 200 evacuees Monday night.
“It’s kind of our way of just kind of giving back to them letting them know that we are here, we are caring about what’s going on,” said Rodericks.
An additional 1,500 evacuees from the Island Lake region were sent to Winnipeg over the weekend due to health concerns.
The evacuees are in Brandon, Thompson, and Winnipeg.
Many were forced to leave with little notice – and with little on their backs.
Some evacuees are finding it hard to adjust to life in the city.
“We have to get like three or four blankets because the cot, the cot beds are so hard to sleep on,” said Henry Fiddler, an evacuee from the Garden Hill First Nation.
Two emergency shelters are being used but as hotel space opens up the Red Cross said they will reassess the situation by the end of the week.
“It is looking at the needs of the individual. are they elderly,” said Canadian Red Cross worker Shawn Feely. “Maybe they’re not feeling well, maybe they have very small babies, that sort of thing.”
Some families said they are getting the help they need from the shelters.
“They have stuff in there for kids. milk, pampers,” said Garden Hill First Nation evacuee Verna McDougall.
(Evacuees kill time outside Winnipeg’s convention centre Tuesday)
Donations continue to pour in with some heading out to Brandon later this week.
It’s unknown when evacuees will be able to return home but in the meantime, community leaders are trying to make the best of a bad situation.
There are about 600 people from the Island Lake region staying in Winnipeg – some in hotels, others in the city’s convention centre.
Charlotte Monias is one of the evacuees from the Garden Hill First Nation.
She’s one of the lucky ones staying in a nearby hotel, but she says friends and family are telling her it isn’t easy living in the shared space.
One of her elderly friends is having a tough time.
“She has very bad arthritis and she said she was in pain because of the cold,” said Moonias. “Even the small kids were getting sick… the babies.”
She said she hopes organizers can get the most vulnerable in better accommodations.
“Old people, they should have put them in the hotels first and the babies,” she said. “You know the young people can survive the condition here, they’re strong enough but for the older ones they won’t be able to survive in that cold.”
Mathias Okema was evacuated from Wasagamack more than a week ago.
He left after staying only one night at the emergency shelter.
“It’s cold and it’s pretty noisy at night after midnight,” he said.
Okema said some people were coming in late under the influence, but it was the discomfort that ultimately forced him to go stay with friends.
Others, like Harold Taylor said the shelter has been tolerable.
“People say it’s cold… me I’m ok with it,” he said.
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