Whitehorse opens emergency operations centre in response to flood risk

·2 min read
Whitehorse city hall. The city is opening its emergency operations centre on Range Road, to prepare for the possibility of flooding.  (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC - image credit)
Whitehorse city hall. The city is opening its emergency operations centre on Range Road, to prepare for the possibility of flooding. (Cheryl Kawaja/CBC - image credit)

The City of Whitehorse says it is taking new steps "out of an abundance of caution" to prepare for possible flooding.

The city's emergency operations centre, already partially open, is now fully activated, the city said in a release on Wednesday, though officials also suggested there was no immediate cause for alarm.

"Based on our current assessment of the situation, this is not an emergency," the release says.

"The city is currently working closely with the Government of Yukon Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) and the Yukon Energy Corporation to monitor the Yukon River and any potential impacts to Whitehorse."

A high streamflow advisory for the Yukon River at Whitehorse was issued on Monday, citing "historically high levels" and "dangerous currents" through Miles Canyon.

The city says it has purchased sand bags in collaboration with the government of Yukon, and is now considering fill material and potential sandbag filling locations.

In response to elevated water levels, the city has closed sections of the Millenium Trail alongside the river as well as the Bert Law bridge.

City officials plan to share regular updates on the flooding situation from Monday to Friday at noon and those bulletins can be found here.

Water levels in Southern Lakes pass 2007 highs

On Wednesday, the Yukon government also confirmed that four lakes in the southern territory have now passed levels last seen in 2007. They are: Bennett Lake, Tagish Lake, Marsh Lake and Lake Laberge.

Patrick Brown, operations manager for Carcross/Tagish First Nation, spoke with CBC News on Tuesday about the flooding at Tagish Lake, describing soil erosion at the water's edge and water creeping onto properties.

"All the elders that I know... they've been watching it daily... it's just unprecedented, they've never seen anything like it before. So we've been acting quickly," he said.

Canadian Armed Forces/Facebook
Canadian Armed Forces/Facebook

About 100 Canadian Forces members have been deployed to Yukon to assist with flood mitigation efforts.

Though no evacuation order has gone out, some property owners along South McClintock Road at Marsh Lake have cleared out.

Residents told CBC News that they were told by emergency officials to vacate their Marsh Lake properties on Sunday.

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