Nfld. & Labrador

Power to Mud Lake cut off, as Labrador community evacuated due to flooding

Helicopters brought in at first light to evacuate residents and pets.

Evacuees flown in to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, taken to arena for registration

Vehicles and trailers seen partially submerged in water on Mud Lake Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (Twitter/@biglandbb)

People in Mud Lake are being air lifted out early Wednesday morning, as the community is under evacuation due to flooding from the Churchill River.

Military helicopters were on the scene to transport people out of the community to nearby Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and boats are also picking up people in cabins along the Mud Lake Road to bring them to safety.

Other people were waiting on higher elevation to be airlifted out.

Mud Lake flood: More residents arrive in Happy Valley-Goose Bay

5 years ago
Duration 1:08
Mud Lake residents arrive at the Happy Valley-Goose Bay airport after being evacuated from their town due to flooding from the Churchill River.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro said it would be cutting off power to the community at 1 p.m. AT, as flooding of electrical equipment has been posing a safety risk. The outage will affect all customers on Mud Lake Road in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and should be restored by 2 p.m. AT.

Evacuees are being taken to the Happy Valley-Goose Bay airport for buses to take them to the arena, where Red Cross representatives say they can register for assistance.

A rescue helicopter drops people from the Mud Lake area off in Goose Bay after being evacuated due to flooding. (Twitter/@JTFA_FOIA)

According to Joint Task Force Atlantic, 32 people and 16 pets had been evacuated from Mud Lake by noon Wednesday. Service NL Minister Perry Trimper said that 11 remained in the community at that time.

For Sarah Rumbolt, it was hard to leave her new home behind, as well as three sets of dog sled teams, but there was no way to get all the animals out.

"Very stressed knowing that everything you owned and everything you worked for is gone, nothing you can do," she said.

Mud Lake resident Joy Williams says she and her dogs were airlifted out safely, but amid the early morning evacuation, she forgot to bring leashes. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

The dogs have been moved to the highest elevated area and should be safe for at least a day, as long as the water levels don't get too high.

But Rumbolt, who's originally from Nova Scotia, said this is a first for her, and she's not sure what she and her family will do.

"I have no clue. We just built a brand new house and all that, so it's gone — we don't know, start from scratch? Who knows."

Going door to door

Trimper said the decision to evacuate was made around 4:30 a.m. and helicopters were deployed as soon as it was light enough to fly.

The roughly 50 residents in the community, as well as their pets, are being flown out.

An aerial photo shows flooding in one area of Mud Lake near Happy Valley-Goose Bay. (Donald Edmunds)

Ground search and rescue crews are also going house to house in Mud Lake to ensure no one is left behind, Trimper said.

Mud Lake residents evacuated due to flooding.

5 years ago
Duration 0:46
People living in the Labrador community of Mud Lake are being evacuated to Happy Valley-Goose Bay due to flooding from the Churchill River

Provincial officials with Fire and Emergency Services will be on site later to come up with a timeline for how long people will be out of their homes.

'Quite scary'

Resident Melissa Best said this is the highest she's ever seen the water levels, and it's the first time she's had to be evacuated from her home.

"The water levels are extremely high and we have to get out of here," she told CBC's Labrador Morning.

Ice was at a standstill or moving very slowly along the Churchill river through out Tuesday as residents watched. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

"There are houses now that are under water. Not to the roof, but I can walk out now into water … it must be like an eight foot, nine foot rise in the water."

Water levels had been rising steadily all night, she said, and people had to leave for higher ground while their homes were flooding.

"It is dangerous, yes," she said. "We have people that have their home ruined, new homes ruined, old homes ruined. It's quite scary."

The unusually high water levels are caused by ice jamming at the mouth of the Churchill River where it flows into Lake Melville.

In nearby Happy Valley-Goose Bay, property owners were laying down loads of sand to try to protect their properties from ice and water.

Mud Lake evacuees waiting at the airport in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. They will be taken to the arena to register for assistance. (Jacob Barker/CBC)

With files from Jacob Barker