The Town of Hay River, N.W.T., has issued an evacuation alert for riverfront properties, including the Corridor, Miron Drive, McBryan Drive, Capital Drive (Downtown) and Riverview Drive.
The alert is precautionary, the town said in a notice at 8 p.m. Sunday night, due to the risk of flooding from the river. It will be followed up with an evacuation order if needed.
The alert came a couple hours after the town ordered the evacuation of Paradise Gardens, a satellite community about 25 kilometres south of Hay River. Residents must register at the Hay River Community Centre or online.
Aerial footage shot at 11 a.m. Monday showed water there 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 went through Hay River this weekend seems to be letting up, though more snow is expected today.
The update stated tributaries off the Hay River have had their water levels rise rapidly in the last two days. Water levels are expected to rise again as the latest snowfall melts.
It also noted it has been a day and a half since additional ice came up from Alberta.
On the weekend, the town issued an evacuation order for Vale Island and West Channel as well, noting more flooding was imminent.
Community members also started Hay River Helps, a Facebook group where people can post if they need food, accommodations 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.
Looking out over the Hay River at Bob McMeekin Chamber Park, McGinnis noted picnic tables and fire pits were sitting in frozen water. Upriver toward Enterprise, Paradise Valley flooded Sunday.
Graham is on the town’s breakup committee and had a walkie talkie with her to communicate with them about conditions.
Hay River saw major snowfall on the weekend, with a snowfall warning persisting on Monday morning as well.
“It’s unbelievable. This is a January snowstorm, and it’s cold, and it’s wet and slippery and you can’t see anything,” Graham said.
Her hope is that the water will go out the East Channel and into the lake.
Graham said she thinks the town’s emergency response to the flooding has been very good, given how much pressure employees are under.
“Nobody’s sleeping,” she said.
Ross Potter, who has been checking the river at a few places, told McGinnis the ice hadn’t moved overnight Sunday and power went out.
The town said on its Facebook page a transmission line fell Sunday and the community was switching to backup power.
Get off Vale Island, says town
Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson said Monday people in the community are scared and the flooding is something they have not seen before.
“And people should be nervous — we can’t stress enough that we need to listen to these alerts and we need to get off [Vale] Island,” she said, adding encouragement for people to help out others where they can.
“If you’re able to help or take somebody in, please do.”
Flooding on the island has gone into commercial and residential properties along the East Channel and, to a lesser degree, on the west side.
Glenn Smith, Hay River’s senior administrative officer, said close to 400 residents lived on the island. He said roughly 250 had left the island and registered with the town as of Sunday night, but some had made the decision to stay.
“We’re hoping that they’re making a decision now to get off the island — that’s what we’re emphasizing. Conditions are very, very bad,” Smith said.
“We need to ensure that we’re not into rescue positions because that eats up a lot of resources and of course it’s a high risk to those residents.”
He added the town helped with some rescues Sunday for Paradise Gardens residents, where water came up quickly and caused severe flooding. Everyone is accounted for, he said.
The town also helped with a difficult rescue near Enterprise, along with some contractors in town and the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The person they rescued was taken to hospital Sunday night with hypothermia.