North

High winds and tide cause flooding on N.W.T.'s Arctic coast

High winds and high tides have caused flooding and heavy erosion in some northern parts of the N.W.T., leaving one abandoned building straddling the Arctic Ocean coastline and a cultural camp underwater.

Cultural camp and abandoned buildings threatened by storm surge

Erosion is slowing dragging this Tuktoyaktuk abandoned building into the Arctic Ocean. (submitted by Bill Beamish)

High winds and high tides have caused flooding and heavy erosion in some northern parts of the N.W.T., leaving one abandoned building straddling the Arctic Ocean coastline and a cultural camp underwater.

Bill Beamish, Tuktoyaktuk's senior administrative officer, said the abandoned building belongs to public works and the hamlet is attempting to pull the structure away from the coast.

"They are trying to remove it now. It is projecting quite a ways into the water," Beamish said. 

"A couple of other abandoned houses are experiencing more of the erosion, which will put them at risk sooner rather than later."

Beamish said Tuesday's full moon brought tides to peak levels and added to the storm surge. He said the area has experienced high winds for days and at least one road in town is underwater.

"Mother nature throws us a big curve ball"

Ruben Green's family runs a cultural camp for fishing and whaling on a island about 15 kilometres southwest of Paulatuk. Green said these types of storm surges usually happen later in the season and his family was caught off guard.

Green received a radio call from his sister at about 10 p.m. Tuesday night, telling him water was overtaking the island and threatened to wash out the tents. He spent last night evacuating the camp.

"High winds, a lot of water overflowing the island where water shouldn't be, and water coming on both sides of the island," Green described the scene to CBC Trail's End host Lawrence Nayally.

"Right now there is no one at the camp to really have a good look, but when my son left he took some video on the iPad and it looked horrible."

Green said everyone at the camp made it out safely.

CBC North meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler said winds in Tuktoyaktuk are gusting up to 60 kilometres per hour, but are expected to ease by Friday.

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