Canadian town in Northwest Territories must evacuate as flooding worsens | Canada

The 4,000 residents of a small town in Canada’s Northwest Territories have been ordered to evacuate as parts of the country grapple with some of the worst flooding in decades.

Chief April Martel of the Kátł’odeeche First Nation ordered her entire community out of Hay River after breakaway ice sent floodwaters through the center of town on Wednesday.

The local infrastructure department had declared the only road link to the city’s airport impassable, closing it.

A section of ice broke off on Wednesday, sending a fresh wave that covered downtown Hay River with a foot or more of water in minutes. Some residents said they were rescued from their homes by boat.

The city is located at the mouth of the Hay River, where it empties into Great Slave Lake on a miniature delta crossed by several river channels.

The ice blocking these channels had blocked the water and a weekend of rain and snow in the river basin added more and more water to this system.

Map showing where the flooding occurred.

“There was a large volume of ice, a large volume of snow in the basin during the winter, and then this storm hit – first as rain, which then flowed directly into streams and streams , immediately causing the water level to rise — and it parked over the entire basin,” territorial hydrologist Shawne Kokelj said this week.

“Now what we’re seeing is there’s still high water coming in from further upstream because a lot of rain has fallen there too, and now some of the snow is melting and so continuing to feed many of these small streams.

Justin Gaudet of Paddle Prairie Mtis Settlement, where about 800 people live, said a local emergency alert was issued on Sunday after rain and snowmelt raised water levels in six nearby rivers to heights that community elders had not seen more than 50 years ago.

“Some of these homes don’t have running water right now,” Gaudet said Wednesday night. “The members are very tired, very stressed, very anxious,” he said.

Gaudet said the water level had dropped, but the dampness and contaminated water posed a threat of mold, and he said some bridges were also damaged.

“Many of our houses in the Hamlet area sit on wooden foundations and are almost 40 to 50 years old,” he said. “Without bridges, people can’t get out of their homes.”

The Dene Tha’ First Nation in Chateh, about 845 km northwest (525 miles) of Edmonton, and the Little Red River Cree have also been under local emergency alert due to flooding since the weekend -end.

The mayor of High Level said on Tuesday that some evacuees living in the arena and city hotels were running out of food.

“It’s a huge influx of people for our little community,” Crystal McAteer said.

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