Flood waters creep onto streets of Hay River

Some streets in Hay River, N.W.T., went under water Wednesday afternoon due to flooding by the local river, hours after a massive ice jam broke upstream earlier in the day.

Homes evacuated in advance of surge

Some streets in Hay River, N.W.T., became flooded Wednesday afternoon by the local river, hours after a massive ice jam broke upstream earlier in the day.

The Hay River's East Channel began flooding in mid-afternoon, the CBC's Allison Devereaux reported from the community of 3,650, located 200 kilometres south of Yellowknife.

The flooding began after the ice jam, located at a gorge on the river between Enterprise and Louise Falls, broke at 2 a.m. MT after building up for several days.

Flooding in the town is fairly common as part of the annual spring breakup of the Hay River. But town officials said this year's inundation is expected to be worse than last year's.

Homes in the town's Vale Island and West Channel areas were evacuated early Wednesday morning, shortly after the ice jam released.

Evacuation phone numbers

Hotline for evacuees who need a place to stay: 867-874-2696

Hotline for all evacuees to register: 867-874-7213 — during office hours

River breakup information line: 867-874-3335

(Source: Town of Hay River)

This year's flooding is following a similar path as last year, with several points already under water.

Boats by the Fisherman's Wharf on the East Channel already have about a metre of water underneath. Mayor Jean-Marc Miltenberger told CBC News those boats will soon be floating. The local beach is also under water.

As well, some streets running parallel to the channel are also under water, Devereaux reported. Flood waters are already creeping halfway up a stop sign pole at 100th Street, she added.

"Both West and East Channels in Hay River, surrounding Vale Island, are full to capacity with water and ice," Miltenberger said earlier Wednesday.

"We have no room left to accommodate the mass of ice that's coming down."

Miltenberger said most of the affected residents fled their homes, although a few decided to stay.

Ice from the gorge, which is about 80 kilometres from Hay River, is flowing toward the town. Much of that ice has been piling up atop existing ice in the river, piling up onto itself and forming mounds of ice, Devereaux reported.

Local flood watch committee member Red McBryan told CBC News there's about 18 kilometres of ice yet to flow downstream.