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N.W.T. premier 'heartbroken' after witnessing aftermath of Hay River flooding

N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane said she was left devastated by what she saw in Hay River on Monday. The community of about 4,000 was flooded earlier this month.

Caroline Cochrane travelled to Hay River on Monday to speak with local leaders, assess damage

N.W.T. Premier Caroline Cochrane, right, looks at damage caused by flooding in Hay River while visiting the community on Monday. (Caroline Cochrane/ Twitter)

After visiting Hay River, N.W.T., Premier Caroline Cochrane said she felt "heartbroken" witnessing the destruction caused by the flooding.

The community of nearly 4,000 was evacuated in mid-May as flood waters rose, causing widespread damage. Residents have been returning over the past week to discover the condition of their homes. 

"Some of the homes and properties are fine. Other properties, minimal damage. But some properties were devastated. They're totally gone. And the water lines up to above their windows," said Cochrane.

The premier was joined on Monday by a few members of her cabinet including Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Shane Thompson as well as some MLAs. 

Cochrane said witnessing the level of destruction left her "devastated," but that it put in context what the victims are going through. 

Cochrane, right, discusses the impact of the flooding with local leaders in Hay River. (Caroline Cochrane/ Twitter)

Cochrane said the amended disaster assistance policy should help many victims, but she understands it may not be enough for everyone. 

She said if the policy is unable to cover the full costs, the territorial government would consider requesting more assistance from the federal government.

"But we'll try to work with what we have," Cochrane said.

Rocky Simpson, MLA for Hay River South, said he appreciates that the premier came to his community. 

"It's one thing, to put a policy out there. But if you don't witness and actually talk, the important thing is talking to people and seeing what's happening on the ground. It's hard to gauge what's required," he said. 

Rocky Simpson, MLA for Hay River South, said he appreciates that the premier visited Hay River as she now understands how serious the situation is. (Mario De Ciccio/Radio-Canada)

Simpson said it would've been better if they had come earlier to witness the full extent of the damage. 

"When you see the water and you see that impact, it's a little different than when everything's subsided," he said. 

MLA invites housing minister, corporation president 

Simpson said he hopes the housing minister as well as the president of Housing NWT will come to Hay River soon to see the aftermath of the flooding.

"The communication there needs to be opened up and... ensure that, you know, we're dealing with these things as quickly as possible," he said.

Many flood victims in Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River First Nation are just getting into their replacement homes in May, a year after the 2021 flooding hit their communities.

Simpson said many of the victims in Hay River are aware of how long it takes to get replacement homes which is why the quicker the process can be started, the better. 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Luke Carroll

Reporter

Luke Carroll is a journalist with CBC News in Yellowknife who has previously worked in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Ontario. Luke is originally from Brockville, Ont., and moved to Yellowknife in May 2020. He can be reached at luke.carroll@cbc.ca.

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