The town of Hay River, Northwest Territories, issued an evacuation alert for waterfront properties including the Corridor, Miron Drive, McBryan Drive, Capital Drive (downtown) and Riverview Drive.
The alert is preventive, said the municipality in a notice at 8 p.m. Sunday evening, due to the risk of flooding of the river. It will be followed by an evacuation order if necessary.
The alert came a few hours after the city ordered the evacuation of Paradise Gardens, a satellite community about 25 kilometers south of Hay River. Residents must register at the Hay River Community Center or online.
Aerial footage shot at 11 a.m. Monday showed water gushing over driveways and roads.
An update from the territorial government’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources Monday morning said the storm system that passed through Hay River over the weekend appears to be calming down, although more snow is expected today.
The update indicates that tributaries of the Hay River have seen their water levels rise rapidly over the past two days. Water levels are expected to rise again as the latest snowfall melts.
He also noted that it has been a day and a half since additional ice came in from Alberta.
Over the weekend, the city also issued an evacuation order for Vale Island and the West Channel, noting that more flooding was imminent.
Community members have also started Hay River helpsa Facebook group where people can post if they need food, accommodation or anything else.
Snowfall, high water
CBC’s Loren McGinnis, who is in Hay River, spoke with Myrtle Graham — the mother of fellow CBC employee Jared Monkman — who voluntarily left her home when Paradise Valley began to flood.
Overlooking the Hay River in Bob McMeekin Chamber Park, McGinnis noted picnic tables and fire pits sat in frozen water. Upstream to Enterprise, Paradise Valley was flooded on Sunday.
Graham is on the city’s breakup committee and had a walkie-talkie with her to communicate with them about the terms.
Hay River saw heavy snowfall over the weekend, with a persistent snowfall warning also on Monday morning.
“It’s unbelievable. It’s a January blizzard, and it’s cold, and it’s wet and slippery and you can’t see anything,” Graham said.
His hope is that the water will come out of the East Channel and flow into the lake.
Graham said she thinks the city’s emergency response to the flooding has been very good, considering the strain on employees.
“No one is sleeping,” she said.
Ross Potter, who checked the river in a few spots, told McGinnis the ice hadn’t moved overnight Sunday and the power was out.
The city said on its Facebook page that a transmission line went down on Sunday and the community was switching to backup power.
Leave Vale Island, the town says
Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson said Monday that residents of the community were scared and that flooding was something they had never seen before.
“And people should be nervous – we can’t stress enough that we have to listen to these alerts and we have to get down [Vale] Island,” she said, adding encouragement for people to help others where they can.
“If you are able to help or accommodate someone, do so.”
Flooding on the island affected commercial and residential properties along the east channel and, to a lesser extent, the west side.
Glenn Smith, Hay River’s senior administrative manager, said nearly 400 residents live on the island. He said around 250 people left the island and registered with the city on Sunday night, but some made the decision to stay.
“We hope they now make the decision to leave the island – that’s what we insist on. The conditions are very, very bad,” Smith said.
“We have to make sure we’re not in rescue positions because that’s resource intensive and of course it’s a high risk for those residents.”
He said the city helped save residents of Paradise Gardens on Sunday, where the water rose rapidly and caused severe flooding. Everyone is taken into account, he said.
The city also assisted in a difficult rescue near Enterprise, along with some city contractors and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The person they rescued was taken to hospital on Sunday evening suffering from hypothermia.