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N.W.T. officials assess Nahanni Butte flood damage

The N.W.T. Department of Municipal and Community Affairs estimates it will be another one to two weeks before Nahanni Butte residents can return to their homes following flooding earlier this month.

Evacuees face up to two more weeks in Fort Simpson

Flood waters have receded from Nahanni Butte, N.W.T., as viewed from the air on June 18, but officials say it will be another one to two weeks before residents can return to the community. (CBC)

The N.W.T. Department of Municipal and Community Affairs estimates it will be another one to two weeks before Nahanni Butte residents can return to their homes following flooding earlier this month.

Most homes were evacuated when the Liard River flooded its banks, and the community's residents were moved to Fort Simpson.

Government officials and crews from the Northwest Territories Power Corporation visited the community on Monday. They said flood waters have receded considerably but there was still standing water in low-lying areas.

"The water and sewer infrastructure is by all indications serviceable but we need to exercise diligence in making sure that it's OK and works properly," said Kevin Brezinski, director of public safety for the government of the Northwest Territories.

"Roads appear OK, but again we need to exercise diligence in making sure the roads are safe and of course the runway needs to be thoroughly checked as well."

MACA stated Tuesday damage to private homes did not appear to be as bad as first suspected, but not all homes were accessed during the assessment visit. The flood waters left about a two-inch layer of silt in most of the buildings that will require extensive cleaning.

Officials said there was damage to the band office and gymnasium, and the power plant was flooded and remained out of operation.

The Northwest Territories Power Corporation estimates it will take three to four days to resume operations and another two to get the community back on line. Other community infrastructure, such as telephones and water treatment, will remain out of service until the power is back on.

New chief acclaimed

Clayton Konisenta is now the new chief of the Nahanni Butte Dene Band.

Before the evacuation, an election was scheduled to be held in the community.

"The election was supposed to be on June 12 and with this flood, everything got forgotten about," Konisenta said.

"Some of my councillor members said "Why did we stop"? We should still function as a band and things should proceed on as we planned."

The band held the election a few days ago in Fort Simpson. Former chief Fred Tesou didn't put his name forward and Konisenta was acclaimed. 

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