Although no immediate risk, Aklavik mayor warns residents to prepare for possible flooding

·2 min read
The Mackenzie River near Aklavik. The community is preparing for the possibility of flooding once again.  (Submitted by Water Survey of Canada and GNWT - image credit)
The Mackenzie River near Aklavik. The community is preparing for the possibility of flooding once again. (Submitted by Water Survey of Canada and GNWT - image credit)

The mayor of Aklavik, N.W.T., is asking residents to prepare themselves for the possibility of flooding.

"Make sure your important items are put up high enough so we can minimize the damage," Mayor Eugene Pascal said Saturday.

There isn't an immediate risk, as the water has been rising slowly and currently sits around 14.2 metres — lower than last year's peak, he said.

The ice has moved a little — around 100 metres — but appears to be solid on either side of the community as of Saturday morning, said Pascal.

Ice jams during breakup are the predominant cause of flooding in the N.W.T.

The hamlet is on the bank of the Peel Channel, which is fed by the Mackenzie River further upstream, where ice jams can threaten the community.

Aklavik, a community of nearly 700 in the Beaufort Delta, has experienced devastating flooding in the past.

As a result, Pascal said the community is prepared for the possibility, including the need for an evacuation.

"Every year we go through this exercise with the community," he said.

If water surpasses 15.6 metres, the main siren will sound to alert residents. RCMP and a fire truck will also drive around the community with sirens sounding.

There is also the local radio station where residents can listen for details.

Pascal said the hamlet will still be able to continue to provide many services amid high water levels, as work has been done to fix some roads that were in disrepair, including the one that reaches the nearby sewage lagoon.

But in the event of truly devastating flooding, Pascal said the hamlet has been working with the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs, the Department of Health and the town of Inuvik, about 55 kilometres east of Aklavik, to prepare for the possibility of an evacuation.

If it comes to that, the first priority will be transporting elders to Inuvik, then the rest of the community would join.

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