State of emergency declared in Fort Good Hope as flood waters rise

·3 min read
State of emergency declared in Fort Good Hope as flood waters rise
At least five homes have been damaged in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., after water started rising on the Mackenzie River late Monday night, according to the community's public information officer. (Submitted by Dan Jackson - image credit)
At least five homes have been damaged in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., after water started rising on the Mackenzie River late Monday night, according to the community's public information officer. (Submitted by Dan Jackson - image credit)

A state of emergency has been declared in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., where flood waters neared the 17-metre mark Tuesday evening, according to Arthur Tobac, the community's public information officer.

Tobac, who also sits on the community's council, said the declaration was made around 10:10 a.m.

There are about 14 homes in the lowest-lying part of the community, which emergency management officials refer to as "zone one." Most residents in the area had already left when the siren sounded at 4:30 a.m. Roger Plouffe, the local emergency management officer, said two remaining people vacated their homes overnight.

As of Tuesday evening, Tobac said people living in "zone two" also started to leave.

"Nobody is being evacuated from the community at all, they're just being relocated to their family on higher sections of town, or they're being put up at the Arctic Circle's camp," he said. The local band hall has become a place where people can drop by for information, snacks, and coffee or tea, he added.

"On the east side of zone one, towards the Jackfish Creek, there are a number of homes that are in the water, one of them is right up to the windows, a two storey-log house that's in the water, right up to the windows, there's a number of warehouses that are floating."

WATCH: Mackenzie River at Fort Good Hope on Monday night, hours before a siren would sound to warn residents of flooding

Tobac said once the emergency declaration was made, the Northwest Territories Power Corporation turned off the power to the south side of the town.

"Which means from the point area down to zone one, which is the field area, that was all shut down," he said.

"The point" refers to a place where the Jackfish Creek meets the Mackenzie River.

Fort Good Hope, also known as the K'asho Got'ine Charter Community, has been on flood watch for weeks now.

Further upstream on the Mackenzie River, the communities of Líídlįį Kúę (Fort Simpson) and Tthek'éhdélį (Jean Marie River) are still recovering from floods caused by the spring breakup more than two weeks ago. The Hamlet of Aklavik is still bracing itself for possible flooding.

'All you can do is be prepared'

Wilfred Jackson, 81, said the water is about a foot away from reaching his door step in Fort Good Hope.

"It's not touching the house, so I'm not moving yet," he said. "It seems to be still, the water is going down slowly, maybe moving down the river I guess ... seems like it's picking up speed, too."

Jackson said he's sure everything's going to be okay.

The emergency management officer in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., says he sounded an alarm to let people know about rising water levels in the community, on the banks of the Mackenzie River.
The emergency management officer in Fort Good Hope, N.W.T., says he sounded an alarm to let people know about rising water levels in the community, on the banks of the Mackenzie River.(Submitted by Jim Tobac)

"I don't get excited about stuff like that. All you can do is be prepared, and ready, and watch. And that's what I'm doing right now."

Plouffe said the water dropped roughly two-and-a-half metres around 7:30 p.m. Monday, and that it was likely caused by a downstream blockage breaking up.

"The ice that was holding in the back, at the bottom of the rampart, broke and then about an hour later the actual rampart broke," he said. "Then we had lots and lots of ice coming, and the water came up pretty quick."