North

River floods out ferry crossing at Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T.

The Mackenzie River has breached parts of Tsiigehtchic after the river jammed. Community members say the waters have reached 2008 levels.

River jammed up after weekend, submerging ferry crossing and flooding out homes

The Mackenzie River at the Dempster Highway crossing near Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T. On the left, water levels are well below the road, compared to the crossing on Monday (right) which is now submerged in water, which rose nearly six feet in one day. (Submitted by Amy Sciezer)

In Tsiigehtchic, N.W.T., the Mackenzie River is rising to its highest levels since 2008, flooding out shoreline fish camps and rising roughly six feet overnight.

That's what resident and river watcher Mickey Andre told the CBC's Wanda McLeod on Tuesday, after seeing the waters go to their highest in 15 years. 

"It's jammed up pretty good right now," said Andre. 

"This time I think we were right at the borderline. Right now, it's the highest I ever seen it."

The river was moving on and off throughout the weekend before jamming up, he said.

On the McPherson side of the river crossing, a fish camp is underwater and on the Inuvik side, the ferry crossing is surrounded by water, said Andre.

While there is warm weather coming, the large chunks of ice are still a source of concern, he said. 

"Would love to get that ice going but the way that ice looks to me is still pretty solid."

With big chunks being pushed into smaller rivers in the delta, the river is struggling to push along.

"That's why we're getting so much back water," he said.

Andre said he suspects a "big jam" around the first part of Point Separation, further along the river. 

The Mackenzie River at Arctic Red River, as seen in a hydrometric gauge photo from the Water Survey of Canada on Tuesday at 9 a.m. (Submitted by Water Survey of Canada and GNWT.)

The river was coming up several feet each day. Andre said the water came up roughly six feet on Monday night.

"Waking up and looking out there on the river, you could see some big ice chunks that still got to go down," he said. 

According to an update from the N.W.T. government's environment department on Tuesday, water levels under the ice of the Mackenzie River are continuing to increase in the Mackenzie River Delta at "normal rates" for this time of year.

In the Delta overall, the breakup is coming at an average time for breakup dates over the last 20 years.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Avery Zingel

Reporter

Avery Zingel is a reporter with CBC North in Yellowknife. She is a graduate of the Carleton University School of Journalism and Political Science. Email her at avery.zingel@cbc.ca or follow her on Twitter @averyzingel.

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