West Point First Nation's oldest house dragged by floodwaters

The chief of West Point First Nation says floodwaters have moved the oldest house in the community far from its original placing. It's one among many structures damaged or moved by the flood.

Historic buildings and residential homes were picked up and damaged in last week's flood

The red-roofed home pictured here is the oldest home on West Point First Nation. It was intended as a historical landmark but now the community fears it could be demolished after floodwaters sent it across the road. (Carla Ulrich/CBC)

West Point First Nation Chief Kenneth Cayen says the aftermath of the flood has changed the face of his community, and the very first house built in the community has moved a shocking distance.

The oldest home in the community was built in the 1950s but now it may not be structurally sound, he said. 

The community had plans to preserve it as a historical landmark, but now they are unsure if it can be saved.

Flooding moved Hay River House

5 months ago
Duration 0:25
Take a look at how far flood waters carried the oldest house in Hay River's West Point First Nation. This is part of the aftermath people in the community are facing after unprecedented flooding earlier this month.

Cayen said it may have to be demolished after waters pushed it across the road, moving it at least five entire lots away. 

The home is resting partially on a vehicle several hundred feet from where it was built.

Floodwaters carried the home across the community, where it crushed a car. (Carla Ulrich/CBC)

Residential homes damaged

Cayen spoke with CBC in the community on Thursday, where he pointed out the extent of the damage.

"We lost a bunch of houses ... It's pretty devastating for our people," said Cayen.

Chief Kenneth Cayen points to his uncle's home, which was recently renovated to be 'livable' for his family. Any future repairs will require lifting the homes even higher than the 1963 flood line. (Carla Ulrich/CBC)

Some homes were already put up on pilings past the 1963 flood water line, but the mitigation was no match for this year's water levels, he said.

The historic home and several others are presumed to have been picked up by the river, crashing into each other. Multiple units were dragged off their foundations.

Cayen said his uncle recently put all of his savings into his house to renovate it for his family.

He said the community will have to put repaired homes on pilings when they rebuild the community.


Carla Ulrich

Video journalist

Carla Ulrich is a video journalist with CBC North in Fort Smith, N.W.T. Reach her at

Written by Avery Zingel based on reporting by Carla Ulrich