Flooding prompts evacuation order for community near Slave Lake
Highway 88 is washed out north and south of Marten Beach, cutting off vehicle access
The hamlet of Marten Beach near Slave Lake, Alta., is being evacuated after river water flooded the community and shut down the local highway.
A critical evacuation alert was sent out around 2:45 p.m. after heavy rainfall caused water levels on the Marten River to rise.
By Thursday evening, floodwaters had covered most of the hamlet and burst through stretches of the local highway, cutting off vehicle access to the community.
The water level jumped by five feet in three hours on Thursday, Lesser Slave River Reeve Murray Kerik told CBC News. Highway 88 was washed out north and south of the hamlet by Thursday evening, he said.
"It just came up so fast. Just, bang, there it was — not much warning," Kerik said after reviewing the damage.
"Culverts have been blown out and the asphalt collapsed and it's just big creeks running full-bore through what used to be the highway. There just is no highway anymore."
Kerik said roughly 200 people had been evacuated from the Marten River campground Thursday. Flood affected residents had either been evacuated or were at higher ground, he said.
"There's nobody trapped or anything in there," Kerik said Thursday evening. "The ones that are badly affected are gone, they're out."
FLOOD UPDATE THURSDAY JULY 25 AT 6:30 PM: RCMP have closed Highway 88 at Ebenau Drive (just north of Summerwood) until further notice. <a href="https://t.co/LSeIYTzISP">pic.twitter.com/LSeIYTzISP</a>—@RUGGEDandREAL
Kerik couldn't confirm the number of affected residents in Marten Beach, which sits on the northeast shore of Lesser Slave Lake. People are being directed to report to a reception centre set up at the district office for the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River No. 124.
According to Environment Canada, the Slave Lake area was hit with nearly 50 millimetres of rain on Wednesday, with showers continuing into Thursday afternoon.
Municipal staff and fire crews put down sandbags in low-lying areas of the hamlet and tried to clear debris from roadways on Thursday morning, according to updates posted on Twitter.
But it wasn't enough to fend off the floodwaters.
"It's probably worse than we've ever seen before," Kerick said.
The hamlet has been under evacuation alerts several times in recent months. Residents were told to leave at the end of May when the McMillan Complex wildfire threatened the community.
Last June, floodwaters washed out Highway 88, knocked out power and triggered voluntary evacuations.
"It just seems like it's getting worse over the past few years," Kerik said. "It just comes up faster and higher than it did before."