Ice jam causes flood, evacuation in Stanley

A dozen homes and businesses in Stanley have been evacuated because of flooding caused by a large ice jam above the village and a second ice jam down river is now being watched closely.

Stanley Mayor Mark Foreman says 'pretty well everything is disrupted to a point'

Heavy rains caused flooding in parts of Stanley on Thursday 1:44

Stanley area residents are being urged to remain on alert for rising water levels after emergency officials ordered about 35 people out of their homes and businesses on Thursday night due to flooding in the village.

Water levels above a four-kilometre-long ice jam that caused the flooding continued to fluctuate on Friday and officials are monitoring a second ice jam down river at McLaggan Bridge, River Watch officials said.

But the Nashwaak River levels are expected to stabilize during the next 24 hours as temperatures remain below zero, officials said.

Stanley Mayor Mark Foreman said in an interview on Friday that a combination of 12 homes and businesses in the village have been evacuated.

"Right now, all the families have found accommodations with friends or family members in the community right here now," he said. "I guess the question is, how long are they going to be out?"

Foreman said the water had not dropped since 10 p.m. on Thursday. He said the cold weather means the ice jam may not be moving very soon.

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The Department of Transportation has put up signs warning of closed streets and roads around the village.

The Anglophone West School District closed schools on Friday in the Stanley area because of the localized flooding. Foreman said school buses cannot cross the barricades put up around the village because of the flooding.

"Pretty well everything is disrupted to a point," he said.

Stanley is used to spring flooding, but hasn't had such a significant one since the 1980s, Foreman said.

Shawn Sampson, the volunteer fire chief in the village, said the river flooded Stanley’s Main Street late in the afternoon, including two feet of water in the fire hall.

Sampson said the flooding came quickly on Thursday afternoon.

Shawn Sampson, the volunteer fire chief in Stanley, said the flooding happened quickly on Thursday afternoon. (CBC)

"As you can see over there, the water is over the road, we don't know how much, if any, road damage has been done," Sampson said on Thursday afternoon.

"I was just speaking with [the province’s Emergency Measures Organization]. We'll have people on River Watch all night [Thursday], so that if it does break free tonight, we'll be able to get people out of their homes before it turns into an issue."

Mike Archer, a Stanley resident, was one of the many people caught off guard by the flood. He was trying to get home on Thursday afternoon, but he was blocked by the flooded river.

"I've been out here for about 25 years and this is the first time I've got stuck on the wrong side — just bad timing," he said.

Provincial advisory

The province’s River Watch program issued an alert on Thursday saying the high water levels in many rivers, streams and tributaries should start to recede in the next two days because of the colder temperatures that are in the forecast.

But the provincial agency indicated the threat is not over completely.

"With the stabilizing and diminishing stream flows, conditions are still favourable to promote the deterioration of ice covers. This could lead to break-up and movement of ice covers and, in turn, could cause ice jam flooding," the alert stated.

"Individuals living or working in areas that are prone to localized flooding should remain aware and take the proper precautions to safeguard their homes and possessions."