'My truck was actually floating': Campers dig out after flood forces evacuation near Grande Prairie

Crystal Jennifer awoke to find her campsite submerged in silt-brown water. She was among more than a dozen people who had to be evacuated from the Smoky Flats campground near Grande Prairie on Saturday.

'The sand and silt is just way too intense'

Campers along the Smokey River awoke to flooding on Saturday morning after heavy rain near Grande Prairie. (Crystal Jennifer/Facebook)

Crystal Jennifer awoke to find her campsite submerged in silt-brown water.

She was among more than a dozen people who had to be evacuated from the Smoky Flats campground near Grande Prairie on Saturday.

Days later, many are digging their campers out of the thick mud and assessing the damage to their rigs.

"The place is unrecognizable it has flooded so bad and still rising at an incredible rate," Jennifer said in a Facebook post Saturday morning.

'We were lucky'

"We were lucky to have made it out safely but our trailer did not as of yet. My truck was actually floating at one point. Crazy!"

The river was rising fast, and churning with debris. Heavy rainfall upstream caused flash flooding in the area.

On the same day, a canoe capsized in the floodwaters. Three people, two women and man, were thrown into the river and clung to a log for several hours.

The women, suffering from hypothermia, managed to swim to shore, but the man, too exhausted from the ordeal, remained in the water.
Crystal Jennifer snapped this photo of the campground before the area was evacuated by RCMP on Saturday morning. (Crystal Jennifer/Facebook)

The women made it to shore and were found on the side of the river, but the man remains missing.

On Sunday, helicopters joined the search, but police suspended the ground search as the Smoky River's rising water level created "dangerous search conditions."

As of Tuesday morning, RCMP were unavailable to comment on the status of the search. 

The campground on the banks of the Smoky River was among the hardest hit by the flooding. RCMP were called to help evacuate campers from the area.

"That last time anyone was awake, it was at 3 a.m.," said Jessica Reid, who has been camping on the beach with her four kids and a close circle of friends every summer for years.

"Then 5:30 a.m. somebody went to let their dog out and couldn't let their dog out because it was so flooded. 

"So they started banging on doors getting everybody up."

While all people in the area were accounted for, two people became stranded on a small island formed by the rising water. A STARS air ambulance helicopter was flown in to rescue the couple.

''When the water came in as quick as it did, it made a kind of gully behind us and that's where the road is, up on the hill. And so they couldn't get off," said Reid.

'We can't get any of them out'

Reid said most of the campers were spared any serious damage, except for one larger RV which was "teeter tottering" on top of the flood waters.
Ground crews have been searching for the missing man since 7 p.m. Saturday. (William Vavrek Photography)

However, all of the units, including Reid's remain stuck in the muck indefinitely. They've spent hours wading through waist-deep water trying to get their units out, but it's been a comedy of errors.

"One pick-up truck tried to get a trailer out and ended up getting stuck, and got the trailer stuck worse after trying to raise all the jacks under that cold water the whole time, and it took three other pick-up trucks to pull him out.

"The sand and silt is just way too intense to even get a pick-up in there, let alone trying to pull a camper out so they're kind of trapped," Reid said. "We had a backhoe in there, we had flat-deck tow truck in there, we can't get any of them out."

"But pretty much everyone on the beach is pretty redneck so we're all helping each other out."
Campers are trying to dig their campers out of the sand and silt, days after flooding submerged their campsite in water. (Devin Pearen/Facebook)