Stranded campers now have way out of flooded hamlet near Slave Lake
'It’s going to be a big clean up job'
About 200 campers stranded by flooding off the northeast shore of Lesser Slave Lake are now able to leave the area.
The hamlet and campground of Marten Beach, about 300 kilometres northwest of Edmonton, have been under an evacuation order since Thursday due to flooding caused by heavy rainfall.
On Saturday, Lesser Slave River Reeve Murray Kerik said crews were able to clear the road enough to let campers out of the area while work continues.
"We have to keep removing the wood so it doesn't pile up and take the bridge out," Kerik said. "At the top of every hour for about 15 minutes we walk the [back]hoe off and let traffic go through and then the hoe goes back to work for 45 minutes. So at least now we have access and egress."
- Hundreds of campers stranded by flood waters near Slave Lake
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Kerik said drivers have to head north on Highway 88 out of the hamlet and then connect to other highways that will take them east or west. The highway remains closed south of the hamlet, he said, after floodwaters washed out parts of the road Thursday.
He said the campground is on high ground and many campers have stayed.
"I don't think there was any big demand for anybody to get out," Kerik said. "It is nice to know that if something goes wrong at least you can get in or out."
The Marten Beach area remains under a state of local emergency.
Kerik says there are only about a dozen residents that live there year-round but it's hard to know how many people may have been at the numerous cabins in the area when floodwaters first hit the hamlet.
The water levels are falling in the area but it is leaving behind large pools of water. Kerik said they are using pumps through out the community.
"Until we get that done we get that done we just can't let residents back in," Kerik said. "It just doesn't work with big pumps and lines running all over the place. But, as soon as we can get it opened up they'll be welcomed back."
He said many cabins in the area have been impacted.
"It's going to be a big clean up job," Kerik said.
Rain continued to fall in the area Saturday and is expected to continue on and off over the next few days.
"Well, it scares us," Kerik said. "At the same time the meteorologists reports … it looks like it's not going to be an incident like we had before. The water has dropped enough that we should be safe."
The same area was hit by a record-setting flood last year. This year's flooding has already broken that record though. Kerik says water levels were a half-metre higher than last year.
He hopes this will push the province to consider some flood mitigation funding.
"We've been asking for it for years," Kerik said. "Up until now it's been totally ignored. I'm hoping now they're going to realize this is a big deal. It's getting to be too regular."