North

'Influx of water' could cause flooding in Hay River's new town: flood update

Emergency management officials in Hay River, N.W.T., are urging residents to evacuate as rising water levels threaten to flood large parts of the community.

Hay River's Vale Island still under evacuation order

The sun sets over the Hay River on Sunday, May 9. Emergency management teams in Hay River, N.W.T., are telling residents to be on "high alert" as still-rising water levels threaten flooding across the community. (Loren McGinnis/CBC)

Emergency management teams in Hay River, N.W.T., are telling residents to be on "high alert" as still-rising water levels threaten flooding across the community.

In an update sent at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, officials warned that ice jams at the East and West Channel of the Hay River may break soon and the resulting "influx of water" could cause flooding to the Vale Island and even Hay River's downtown area, known as new town.

Monday morning, the town posted to Facebook that the "river is moving with bank-to-bank ice flow through town," and that residents should be "on high alert for risk of flooding and should be off Vale Island."

Vale Island has been under a mandatory evacuation order since May 7 as the risk of flooding has continued to climb. The town resent an emergency alert asking residents to evacuate around 9 a.m. Monday morning. About 400 of Hay River's 3,800 residents live on Vale Island.

"The evacuation order is still in effect," Sunday's update reads. "For those of you affected by it, we thank you for your patience. We will lift the order as soon as it is safe for us to do so."

Evacuees are required to register in person at the Hay River Community Centre before evacuating the community or call 1-833-699-0188. Those with COVID-19 symptoms or who are in self-isolation are asked to call, rather than go in person.

The centre is providing cots, blankets, and meals to evacuees. Those relocating can also stay at the centre's RV park free of charge, or seek private accommodation.

Communities across the South Slave are facing unprecedented water levels as northern waterways begin their annual spring melt and breakup. Nearly all of Jean Marie River's 26 homes were flooded and contaminated by fuel on the weekend, and the nearby town of Fort Simpson is under an evacuation order as waters rise on the Mackenzie River.

Sunday's update from Hay River's emergency management authority says water levels are continuing to climb at Sousa Creek, Chinchaga River, and Steen River in northern Alberta, all of which are tributaries to the Hay River. Some areas are already recording "record highs" in terms of depth, it says.

WATCH | Some Hay River residents told to evacuate amid unprecedentedly high water levels: 

Residents of Hay River, N.W.T., told to evacuate

The National

3 months ago
1:39
Water levels at record highs force the community of Hay River, N.W.T., to issue evacuation orders as the town braces for flooding. 1:39

now