By Keith Dorken
On the evening of Sunday, April 27, the First Nations Chiefs of Kashechewan (James Bay) decided to evacuate the entire Kashechewan community due to damage to protective dykes and the resulting dangers of severe flooding.
When evacuees from Kashechewan started to arrive in Stratford members from the Perth Country Flying Club, COPA Flight 69, assisted with the unloading of the aircraft and helping the evacuees.
The first evacuees arrived at Stratford Airport on Monday, April 28, at 1:10 p.m. on a C-130 Hercules aircraft. The first flight included 79 people; the second with an additional 92 people arrived at 2:40 pm.
The evacuees were immediately transported to the Stratford Rotary Complex, which was set up by the Red Cross as an emergency shelter. Red Cross volunteers and members of the Perth Emergency Control Group greeted the Kashechewan people who were primarily families with young children and young adults. The duration of their stay was dependent on the flooding situation in James Bay and when it is safe for them to return to their homes.
The busiest time was the last flight of the day when three aircraft all arrived within a short time span of each other. The ramp at Stratford (CNM4) was completely full. The airport manager had moved an entire row of tied down aircraft to other locations on the airport to make enough room for the C-130.
The crew of the C-130 gave a nice fly-over demonstration on their departure after the last flight of the day.