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'Like Christmas in July': Blizzard delays Cambridge Bay holiday concert

Cambridge Bay will be celebrating Christmas in January this season after a three-day blizzard last week all but buried the community in snow.

Resident good Samaritan digs out school to feed chickens, helps others along the way

Christopher Crooks, a Grade 6 teacher, dug his way into school so he could feed some chickens and water some plants. (Submitted by Paula Cziranka)

Cambridge Bay will be celebrating Christmas in January this holiday season after a three-day blizzard last week all but buried the community in snow.

Schools closed down and many people stayed home from work, and resident Navalik Helen Tologanak says many in the community made the most of the weather.

"This this past week or two we've never seen so much snow," she said. "When you're walking around town all you hear is snow plows everywhere and you see piles and piles, and hills and hills of snow and everyone's just having fun."

The school closures also led to one of Cambridge Bay's biggest shows — the Christmas concert at Kullik Illihakvik Elementary school — to be delayed to January.

"[It will be] like Christmas in July when the barge comes in," joked Tologanak.

Man digs his way into school to feed his chickens

A three-day blizzard in Cambridge Bay has pushed the community's popular Christmas concert to January. (Submitted by Paula Cziranka)

School shut down halfway through the school day on Friday, stranding plants that needed to be watered and chickens that needed feeding.

This prompted Christopher Crooks, a Grade 6 teacher, to take matters into his own hands.

I figured I'd go for a walk with my shovel.- Christopher Crooks

"I figured I'd go for a walk with my shovel," he said.

When Crooks got to the school he found a large mound of snow in front of the building. He climbed over it and slid down the other side, where there was about three feet of snow in front of the door.

"It took about 10 or 15 minutes," he said, adding the job was "easy enough."

After digging into the school, feeding his chickens, and finding time to help a resident clear off their steps, Crooks decided it was time for one more good deed.

"My son has a house, so … I walked over there and shovelled out in front of his place because it had drifted pretty good," he said.

Community gets back on its feet

Resident Paula Cziranka says snow drifts were four metres tall in some areas of the community. (Submitted by Paula Cziranka)

Blizzards in Northern communities generally keep water and sewer trucks off the roads, and Cambridge Bay is no exception. This means many residents went without running water or sewage for days.

In the meantime, people were able to benefit from Crook's shovelling work at the school.

"The schools, since they hadn't been used for three days, would have had their sewage pumped out on Tuesday and water brought in on Tuesday, so the schools opened up on the Saturday for people to come in and shower and get water," he said.

Crooks said when people know a blizzard is coming, they'll start to prepare by conserving water and grabbing a bit of extra food to ride out the storm. Even when the stores are able to open, fresh food can be hard to come by during these times as planes full of freight can't land.

Storms also can wreak havoc for passenger flights at the airport, stranding people inside the community, or out.

"You learn to be patient," said Crooks.

With files from Emily Blake, Loren McGinnis

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