FILE -- Residents of Kashechewan arrive at the Thunder Bay International Airport in May after fleeing from their flooded home community. The nearly 600 residents temporarily living in Thunder Bay are expected to start their return home soon.
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THUNDER BAY -- Kashechewan residents living in Thunder Bay after flood waters forced them from their community are returning home.
Thunder Bay Fire Rescue Deputy Fire Chief Greg Hankkio on Tuesday said the process had begun to transport the displaced residents from this city to their homes.
Multiple flights will be scheduled throughout the next few days to transfer the more than 600 evacuees.
“We don’t have any definitive timelines for when the entire repatriation process will be complete. Our hope is that it will be completed by the end of the week but there are a lot of factors at play,” Hankkio said.
Kashechewan residents fled the James Bay Coast First Nation after severe flooding in May. Those residents remained in host cities across the province due to a damaged nursing station that couldn’t adequately service the remote, far north community.
A temporary medical station is now set up in Kashechewan, which will allow the majority of families to return.
Kashechewan band councillor Bradley Wesley said people are more than ready to return after a difficult month away from home.
“It’s really, really good to go home,” Wesley said. “People are really excited. They couldn’t sleep because of the excitement that they’re going home.”
He said many of the residents were saddened by not being able to see friends and family who were sent to other host communities.
About 36 homes suffered serious damage from the flood, which will require some families to remain away until repairs are complete.
Those families are being sent to Kapuskasing for a longer-term stay.
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