Vale Island, West Channel under evacuation order as waters rise around Hay River

Residents of Vale Island and West Channel in Hay River, Northwest Territories are urged to move to higher ground as waters may flood the area.

Localized flooding was reported around the West Channel and West Point First Nations area, as well as the northeast areas of East Channel and Paradise Gardens, the city said in an emailed advisory at 11:30 a.m. .

Ice jams are occurring in the West and East Channels and the risk of further flooding is high.

“All residents still on the island are advised to evacuate,” the notice read.

An evacuation order went into effect at 2 a.m. Saturday morning.

Hay River resident Kevin Wallington said the advisory came after a heavy downpour and power outage that lasted until Saturday morning.

“It was kind of like a Stephen King novel. We kind of had all kinds of things going on at the same time,” he said.

“It was quite strange to leave the old town with everything going on in the dark.”

The local state of emergency was declared around 1:30 a.m.

The majority of the river ice has yet to pass through the community, and the precipitation warnings in place for northern Alberta and southern slave regions will worsen conditions, the city advisory said.

Evacuation center activated

People leaving for flood areas are advised to register on the Hay River website.

Some of the accommodation options for those going include the Hay River Community Center RV Park, for those who have access to a motorhome or trailer. Electricity will be provided and there will be no cost to those using the sites.

There is also the evacuation center at the Hay River Community Center, where a bed and blanket will be provided, as well as basic food. There will be no charge for those staying there.

Residents can also stay in commercial accommodations, but are responsible for the costs. Residents can also stay with family and friends on higher ground or in other communities.

In an email, the city wrote that emergency officials will monitor the area and provide updates throughout the day. Kátł’odeeche First Nation Chief April Martel released live video of water levels to Facebook.

Water levels and flows throughout the Hay River Basin are very high, with some areas near the Hay River border reaching historic levels.

Territorial government officials said high water levels alone don’t usually cause flooding in the Northwest Territories; ice jams, which are difficult to predict, are generally the cause. But high water levels can make flood damage worse.