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'The people are fine. Our little community is not': Communities deal with flooding along Mackenzie River

CBC News hasn't been able to reach people in Jean Marie River on Saturday, but Paul Simon was able to find cell phone service on a drive and posted photos of the flood waters on social media.

Officials continue to monitor water levels along the Mackenzie River Saturday

CBC News hasn't been able to reach anyone in Jean Marie River, but in a post on Facebook Paul Thunder-Stealer says the community is not fine amid flooding from the Mackenzie River breakup. (Paul Thunder-Stealer/Facebook)

Water levels are rising as the ice breaks up along the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories — forcing communities in the South Slave and Dehcho regions to prepare and launch emergency measure to keep people safe. 

Shortly before 11 a.m. Saturday, Danny Beaulieu, the mayor of Fort Providence, said no action was being taken in the community yet because "the water is rising, but it's normal." 

He said ice has started to break up between Fort Providence and the Big River Service Centre, and he was planning to check on about 50 cabins near the winter crossing. 

CBC News has been unable to reach leaders and residents in Jean Marie River, a community that is also situated on the river and is roughly a 250 kilometre drive west of Fort Providence. 

"Cell service down in JMR," said Paul Simon, who goes by Paul Thunder-Stealer on Facebook. "The people are fine. Our little community is not. I drove to get service. Pictures taken about 7am approx."

"Cell service down in [Jean Marie River]," wrote Paul Thunder-Stealer in a post on Facebook. "The people are fine. Our little community is not." (Paul Thunder-Stealer/Facebook)

'He's got to protect his property'

Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya told CBC News on Saturday morning that had spoken to Keith Squirrel, a man living in one of the cabins near a winter access road in Fort Providence.

There is water coming up past the steps of Squirrel's home, he said. 

"It's pretty stressful because the waters coming high and he's got to protect his property," he said. "The best thing he's doing is starting to haul things out of his cabin, things of value, he's even thinking about 'how can I move my cabin.'" 

Keith Squirrel lives in one of the cabins dealing with flooding near Fort Providence. Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya says Squirrel has started moving things of value elsewhere, and is trying to protect his property. (Submitted by Norman Yakeleya)

Yakeleya said the Government of the Northwest Territories has an emergency flood damage program, but they need to communicate it to the people who need it. 

"[There] could be many like him in this situation, where he needs to know where to apply for support."

With files from Anna Desmarais

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