Central Alberta First Nation declares state of emergency from heavy snowfall

A central Alberta First Nation has declared a local state of emergency after heavy snowfall cut power and water for more than 24 hours.

Emergency response prompted after heavy snowfall cut power, water to homes for more than 24 hours

Kehewin Cree Nation in central Alberta declared a state of emergency Saturday after heavy snowfall cut power and water to some homes for more than 24 hours. (Shannon Hambly/Supplied)

A central Alberta First Nation has declared a local state of emergency after heavy snowfall cut power and water for more than 24 hours.

Kehewin Cree Nation, a community of about 1,000 people 20 kilometres south of Bonnyville, lost power around 12:30 p.m. Friday. The power outage shut down the community's main waterline.

Kehewin activated emergency response teams Saturday morning, sending health centre staff to check on sick, elderly and pregnant residents.

The situation escalated to a local state of emergency at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

"We're starting to get many homes with food spoilage," spokesperson Shannon Hambly said. "The homes that have taken in people are running out of resources."

Some residents have taken in as many as 20 people, she said.

"I'm worried because we do have members who have been phoning in and they're worried about our elderly," Hambly said. "We have diabetics and we have people with heart conditions ... there's a lot of concern out there."

Snowplows and water trucks stuck on muddy roads while trying to reach residents on Kehewin Cree Nation. (Shannon Hambly/Supplied)

Despite some repairs, half of the more than 250 homes in Kehewin are still without power. Water trucks are running low and struggling to access snowed-in homes, Hambly added.

"The homes have gotten a lot colder," she added. "We're trying to prepare in case we have to go without power for another 24 hours."

A message to Kehewin's residents urged them to conserve water.

"If you have limited [water] or are running out of bottled water please call in so we can work on exchanging for fresh water to be dropped off," read the statement, posted to Facebook.

"If you have been without food or have no way to cook for yourself, please call in so something to eat could be delivered."

Heavy snowfall on Friday weighed down trees and power lines in eastern and central Alberta, including in Kehewin Cree Nation. (Shannon Hambly/Supplied)

Friday's snowstorm also damaged power lines of nearby communities in central and eastern Alberta, including St. Paul, Glendon, Bonnyville, La Corey, Ardmore and Cold Lake. 

Wet snowfall piled higher than 30 centimetres in some areas, snapping electrical lines as it froze. 

"Heavy, wet snow swept across the central and northern portions of our province," said Brent Kobelka, ATCO director of distribution operations.

"It's created some power interruptions that our crews have been working to restore over the last couple days."

Poor road conditions and deep snow are slowing ATCO crews, Kobelka added. All crews are working on a 24/7 rotation to restore power.

Kobelka did not give an estimate for how many people have been affected or when power will be restored.