Marsh Lake residents battling floodwaters asked to 'please leave' homes

Some residents in the Yukon community of Marsh Lake have been asked to leave their homes as rising waters on the nearby lake threaten to wash away their properties.

White Pass train service to grind to a halt by week's end

Some residents in the Yukoncommunity of Marsh Lakehave been asked toleave their homesas rising waters on the nearby lake threatened to wash away their properties Monday.

"Right now, they've issued a 'please leave your home' [request] to get people out of that affected area," Marsh Lake emergency measures co-ordinator Mike Larsen told CBC News around midday on Monday.

Yukon emergency officials are pleading for more volunteers to fill sandbags to protect properties in communities like Marsh Lake. ((CBC))

"It's kind of obvious that you have to go. You can't get a normal pickup truck in there very easily anymore. The road bed's starting to go and the water is fairly deep."

Larsen said some homes in the Army Beach Road area are facing an especially dangerous riskfrom floodwaters.

People in the community of about 1,650 rushed to fill thousands of sandbags on the weekend, as water levels in theSouthern Lakes inched just above record levels.

As the waters rise in the lakes outside Whitehorse, so has the need for more volunteers for sandbag-filling work.

Map of communities affected by flooding in the Yukon's Southern Lakes. ((CBC))

Volunteers had filled about 33,000 sandbags over the weekend, said Doug Caldwell, a spokesman with the Yukon Emergency Measures Organization.

Late last week, the Yukon government andYukon Energy Corp. pegged water levels at Marsh Lake to have reached 657.01 metres above sea level — just over the record high of 656.994 metres set in 1981. Government forecasters predicted the water to rise another 23 centimetres over the next two weeks.

The Southern Lakes include Marsh Lake and Tagish Lake, as well as the communities of Marsh Lake, Tagish and Carcross.

In Marsh Lake, Caldwell said space has been set up in the local community centre for people to park recreational vehicles and boats that may be in the path of floodwaters.

"We don't want fluids — like petroleum products, oil, antifreeze — entering into the water system because it all goes down the Yukon River into the water system," he said Sunday. "We have to try and prevent that hazardous material from getting in there."

Tourist train service to besuspendedthis week

Meanwhile, the White Pass and Yukon Route Railroadannounced it will suspend its tourist train service between Carcross and the B.C. town of Bennett by Friday at the latest. The service may be taken off the tracks earlier if conditions worsen.

In a release issued Monday, White Pass president Gary Danielson said the high water levels at Bennett Lake, plus the risk ofhigh winds, is threatening its rail bridge in Carcross.

A tourist train crosses the bridge in Carcross, Yukon, with rising lake water reaching up to the platform. ((Vic Istchenko/CBC))

After the waters recede, Danielson said the company will bring in an engineer to inspect the bridge before it resumes service.

Hundreds of sandbags surround the Carcross train station, while sump pumps have been working round the clock in the basement.

Carcross residents Dorothy Gibbon and Ed Lishman said they are counting on the dike they built after flooding in 1994 to hold back the water. Sump pumps are barely keeping up with water seeping through their ground-floor bedroom.

"We can't prevent the seepage, but I think we're going to be okay, [as long as] it doesn't come up too much higher," Lishman said.

Sandbagging volunteers resumed work in Carcross on Monday, shoring up the beachfront at the bottom of the new footbridge.