Flood preparations continue in Fort Good Hope, Aklavik

·2 min read
The Peel River at Fort McPherson is ice free after breaking without incident earlier this week. (William Firth/CBC - image credit)
The Peel River at Fort McPherson is ice free after breaking without incident earlier this week. (William Firth/CBC - image credit)

Some people living in a low-lying part of Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., have placed a boat next to the door of their home so they're ready for the "worst case scenario".

That's according to Roger Plouffe, the community's director of emergency services, who said there was no ice along the Mackenzie River in front of the community as of Friday morning.

"The elders and the people who know the river are saying that they can't quite figure out what's going to happen," he told CBC's The Trailbreaker. "But it's normal, it's part of the process."

A wooden stake where Jackfish Creek meets the Mackenzie River marks the point where, if touched by rising water levels, a state of emergency would be declared and evacuation warnings would be issued to the roughly 14 homes in a low-lying zone of the community.

That hasn't happened yet, but Plouffe said people are ready.

"Some of them who have enough worries, they've already moved out of their house temporarily and moved their stuff," he explained. "And we've got some who are going to hang on to the very end. They know what they're doing."

Ice on the Mackenzie River began to move freely Monday evening without incident. As of Friday, Plouffe said there are blockages below the community and that it remains on flood watch.

According to an update from the Department of Municipal and Community Affairs (MACA), evacuees from high-risk areas of Fort Good Hope are being hosted within the community and the regional emergency management officer is putting resources in place in case support is needed.

Further downstream, MACA said Fort McPherson and Aklavik are also at elevated risk of flooding, while the mayor in Alkavik said his community is expecting a flood.

"If you were to take a ride downtown, you know, the residents, the elderly, the people that [have] been through this before, you see them preparing," said Andrew Charlie. "You see them bringing in, elevating everything off the ground."

The biggest challenge, said Charlie, is the sewer and fuel tanks which are on the ground.

"Those have a tendency to topple over. That's the big worry we have. But other than that, you know, ice is not really going to come through town. The current is going to stay in the river."

Charlie expects the water would rise slowly, however, by centimetres or inches, instead of metres.

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