A Canadian town is being evacuated after loose ice caused flooding

Residents of Hay River, on the south side of Great Slave Lake, have been ordered to leave and seek shelter, according to a Thursday news release from the city.

Hay River is about a five and a half hour drive around the lake from Yellowknife.

“This is a difficult time for our community,” the Town of Hay River said in an updated news release Friday. “Please remember that people today are tired, worried and under a lot of stress. Be kind to one another. Take actions that are productive to get through this together.”

Residents of the city will not be allowed to return home because “their presence here is detrimental to our recovery efforts,” the statement said.

There is no road access in some areas, including the Vale Island area, and “the availability of essential services including health, food, transportation, etc.” is unconfirmed in the city, according to the statement.

Several rescues were carried out and property damage was reported in the city, according to an earlier report.

Tyler Martel, who lives in the Hays River area, told CNN he chose not to evacuate, despite the evacuation order.

“What a night it’s been. Whole city under flood evacuation…half the city has water and ice,” Martel posted on Facebook along with photos showing the aftermath of severe flooding. “I’ve never seen this before in my life and hope to never see it again. Stay safe everyone…”

By Friday afternoon, the water appeared to be receding in some areas, but “anything can still happen,” Martel told CNN.

“The town was unprepared because it has never happened on the south side of the bridge before,” he added, “The old town north of the bridge, it is common to have flooding at the spring, for it is an island.”

The city first advised residents on April 7 to prepare for the potential for flooding from the breakup. Warming temperatures, melting snow and rising waters have all played a part in the flooding of the past two weeks.

A local state of emergency and evacuation order was put in place on May 7 for the area.

“Entry into the community is limited to emergency and essential services.” says the press release. “The city will fully transition from response activities to recovery activities once the risk of ice breakup has subsided and flood risks have been mitigated.”

Mikey McBryan, a resident of Yellowknife on the north side of Great Slave Lake, recorded video Thursday of a plane, flying over the area and showing the Hay River Merlyn Carter Airport runway under water and pieces of ice in the surrounding river.

McBryan told CNN his parents lived in Hay River and damaged their basement and yard. The airport has told the community it will take at least a week before services resume, he added.

“The best part of it all is that the community sticks together,” McBryan said. “Everyone gets involved and sticks together.”

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