Tagish residents fill sandbags as rising water levels prompt fear of floods

·2 min read
People help fill sandbags in Tagish, Yukon, on Saturday in anticipation of rising water levels at nearby lakes that could threaten some properties.  (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)
People help fill sandbags in Tagish, Yukon, on Saturday in anticipation of rising water levels at nearby lakes that could threaten some properties. (Chris MacIntyre/CBC - image credit)

About a dozen residents of a Yukon community banded together over the weekend to fill sandbags in anticipation of water levels in local lakes continuing to rise — and possibly spill over onto some properties.

Yukon officials issued a high water advisory alert for the territory's Southern Lakes — Bennett, Tagish and Marsh lakes — on June 25, warning that upcoming warm temperatures were expected to result in rapid melting of the remaining record snowpack.

Lake levels have been rising since May 7 and are now increasing by eight to nine centimetres a day, with "elevated" levels expected for the next week as the snowpack melts.

"It's just mind-boggling," Tagish resident Brian Thompson told the CBC about the rising water levels.

"Let's put it this way — right now, I have an erosion control structure in front of my place, but I thought I built the thing high enough," Thompson said. "I didn't build it high enough for this year."

The last time Thompson said he remembers water this high was in 2007, when flooding caused massive damage to the Southern Lakes area. While residents expected higher lake levels this year due to the snowpack, Thompson, who plans to bring about 300 sandbags to his home, said they didn't expect it to this degree.

"It's just — it's crazy," he said. "This will be historical. I don't think we'll ever have an event like this again, or at least I hope we don't."

Chris MacIntyre/CBC
Chris MacIntyre/CBC

Louise Girard, who lives near the Tagish bridge, said the water was already higher than it was in 2007, when flooding caused "quite an issue" at her property.

"We're quite worried," she said of the current situation.

Girard told the CBC that her husband had taken a trailer full of sandbags to their property and were planning on loading up at least one more as a precautionary measure.

"The water is not at the house yet but we can't wait until it is, and I think the fear is, if it's higher than 2007, a lot of people will be in trouble," she said, adding that, should the sandbags not be enough, she would rely on trenches and pumps to keep her home dry.

Girard added she was "emotional" and "thankful" to see people whose own properties weren't necessarily at risk volunteering their time to help fill sandbags.

"I have to say, it's a very difficult time for us," she said, "and we'll just hope that it doesn't get worse than 2007."

Chris MacIntyre/CBC
Chris MacIntyre/CBC
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