All 4,000 people in the Northwest Territories town of Hay River were ordered to evacuate as water reached the center of the community.
Katl’odeeche First Nation chief April Martel on Wednesday ordered her entire community to leave and head south toward the city of Enterprise as parts of western Canada grapple with some of the worst flooding in decades.
The city of Yellowknife opened an evacuation center for people leaving Hay River in search of safety, and in Fort Providence, the Big River gas station helped evacuees through the night. Other people seemed to be on their way to northern Alberta.
“Some had very little warning and had to react quickly to stay safe as they left their homes, their belongings and, for some, their businesses to endure the water and ice,” said Northwest Territories Prime Minister Caroline Cochrane and Secretary of State. of municipal affairs, Shane Thompson, in a statement. a statement on Thursday.
The local Department of Infrastructure closed the only road to Hay River’s Vale Island, where the local airport is located, as impassable.
Residents wade through medium-deep water to salvage what they could from properties in Hay River, Northwest Territories, amid an evacuation order due to severe flooding: https://t.co/XwnKbUVLLL #HayRiver #HayRiverlood
— The Weather Network (@weathernetwork) May 12, 2022
Earlier Wednesday, some of the ice broke away, flooding a new stream of water into the city and downtown within minutes by a foot or more. Some residents reported being rescued from their homes by boat.
The town is located at the mouth of the Hay River where it flows into Great Slave Lake and it is essentially a miniature delta with multiple river channels running through it.
Ice blocking those channels had blocked the water, and a weekend of rain and snow in the river’s basin added more and more water to that system.
“There was a large amount of ice, a large amount of snow in the basin in the winter, and then this storm hit – at first as rain, which then poured straight into streams and creeks, immediately raising the water level – and it parked over the entire basin,” territorial hydrologist Shawne Kokelj said this week. “What we’re seeing now is that there’s still high water coming from further upstream because a lot of rain has fallen there too, and now some of the snow is melting and so much of it remains. feed these smaller streams.”
Justin Gaudet of the Paddle Prairie Mtis Settlement, which is home to about 800 people, said a local emergency warning was issued Sunday after rain and melting snow caused water levels in six nearby rivers to rise to heights that elderly people in the community have seen for more than 50 years. last seen.
“Some of these houses currently have no running water,” Gaudet said late Wednesday. “The members are very tired, very stressed, very anxious,” he said.
Gaudet said the water level had dropped, but moisture and contaminated water posed the threat of fungal damage, and he said some bridges were damaged.
“Without the bridges, people cannot leave their homes,” he said.
The Dene Tha’ First Nation in Chateh, about 845 kilometers northwest of Edmonton, and the Little Red River Cree have been under local flood warnings since the weekend.
The High Level mayor said this week that some evacuees living in the city’s bullring and hotels were running out of food.
“It’s a huge influx of people for our small community,” says Crystal McAteer.
In Manitoba Province, 28 municipalities and four First Nation communities have declared a state of emergency, with 2,500 people out of their homes.