Home by home, Clyde River residents clear snow after heavy blizzard

A massive snow dump reached the hamlet of Clyde River, Nunavut, while its bulldozer and one loader were out of service. Residents worked to clear snow so that trucked water and sewage services could reach homes.

The community is working to clear the snow, but there are mechanical issues with some equipment

Heavy snowfall has partially buried Clyde River, Nunavut, as residents work to shovel out. (Submitted by Jake Jr. Palluq)

Residents of Clyde River, Nunavut, are helping each other clear piles of snow after the community was hit by a week-long blizzard, along with extreme weather conditions.

The forecast for the community as of Monday afternoon showed a high –32 C, with a wind chill factor nearing –44 C, and a warning of "frostbite in minutes."

While Environment Canada's data is incomplete when it comes to how much snow fell in Clyde River, Jerry Natanine, the hamlet's chief administrative officer, said the flurries were substantial enough to block roads and peoples' homes in the community.

Normally the hamlet relies on a bulldozer and two loaders to clear streets and remove snow, but the bulldozer and one loader are out of service. That's a major problem in a community that relies on trucked water and sewer services. 

Natanine said Monday morning that some roads were closed and some homes were inaccessible.

Though work is underway to clear the snow, thanks in part to some helpful residents, he said it poses some safety risks in the event of an emergency.

"If a house got on fire, obviously, the firetruck wouldn't be able to go to that house, so it's [a] very serious situation," he said.

Usually, Natanine said, the loader is used to pile up snow. When that's done, the snow piles are moved outside of the community. 

"But that hasn't been possible with only one loader," Natanine said. "So, it's been piling up snow in between houses. And so we still haven't been able to remove all those piles of snow." 

Residents worked in the dark to shovel the snow that fell on Clyde River, Nunavut. (Submitted by Jake Jr. Palluq)

That said, one loader is on the road and they hope to make all homes accessible by the end of the day, or by Tuesday.

He said community members have been helping out their neighbours shovel their driveways to help provide access to service vehicles.

In the meantime, homes that are not reachable by car right now may not get water deliver, or garbage removed, until the snow is cleared up.

"During the blizzard, a lot of houses, a lot of our units were out of water, or the sewage tank was full. And you know, there's been problems of sewage tanks being frozen, because it hasn't been pumped out for too long," he said.

"That's always a big problem … It's quite a pressing situation right now."

The water and sewage trucks have also been working "pretty much all night," he said, "going to houses that they can reach" in the hopes of servicing as many as possible.

Heavy snowfall has partially buried Clyde River, Nunavut. (Submitted by Jake Jr. Palluq)

Natanine said the hamlet has been trying to get a technician to come in to service the heavy equipment.

However, bad weather and COVID-19 restrictions have prevented that. He said the hamlet is working with the Nunavut's Department of Community and Government Services to get a mechanic to Clyde River.

With files from Steve Silva and Pauline Pemik