“This is much worse than I thought”: Communities in the Northwest Territories are flooding under river banks

After seeing the impact of flooding on Fort Simpson and the Jean Mary River in the northwest, the next community along the Mackenzie River is preparing for the flood year.

Last fall, the river froze unprecedentedly high water levels and is now causing a very unpredictable rupture. Half of Fort Simpson was partially submerged, and hundreds of residents had to be evacuated. At the same time, the Jean Marie River, a community of about 100 people, was almost abandoned on weekends because the houses were filled with water.

Schools and buildings will need major repairs. Over the weekend, strong floods and ice uprooted the fuel tank, and the smell of fuel still permeated the air.

Watch | A look at the flood in the Northwest from above:

In the spring, flooding caused by the rupture of the rivers on the Riyadh and Mackenzie rivers forced the evacuation of residents of the northwestern region, including Fort Simpson and the Jean Mary River. CBC’s Eden Maury conducted a survey of the two communities from the air on May 10. 3:23

Now, downstream communities are preparing for what may happen.

NWT Norman Wells Mayor Frank Pope said that the flooding has surprised people.

The pope said: “This is much worse than I thought.”

Although communities usually do not flood, the mayor said they are prepared to serve as refuges for others.

“Heritage Hotel told us that in an emergency, they will provide 20 rooms for people who may come here. We are looking for cribs… in our community halls to set up cribs for families and people who may need other help. ” He says. “So we are ready to accommodate people from other communities.”

A map showing Fort McPherson, Norman Wells, Tulita, Fort Simpson, Jean Marie River and Hay River. All communities are currently affected or at risk of flooding. (CBC)

Norman Wells currently has 8 elders who are evacuated from the Elderly Center in Fort Simpson.

The Pope said: “I feel very sorry for Haihe, Jean Marie and the people of Fort Simpson. I hope this is the end of bad things, things will go away, and they can return to normal.” He admitted that there is still a lot of work before that. To do.

The Pope said that the town can currently accommodate at least 100 people, but this number will increase once the community hall and “school gyms are built if needed.”

On Saturday, the day before the overall evacuation of the town was requested, a road was flooded in Fort Simpson in the Northwest Territories. (Submitted by Val Nahanni)

Further north, Fort McPherson in the Northwest has begun preparing for floods by first reviewing its emergency plan.

Senior Administrator Gary McBride said the COVID-19 agreement issued by the Chief Public Health Officer may slightly change these plans.

McBride said that if the village is flooded, the community hall and school gymnasium will become shelters, but this will not affect the entire community.

“The only thing we care about is the lower class people, and then the ferry passes through many houses and camps, and these houses and camps will also be in danger.”

“Increasingly Unpredictable”

The floods in Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson also shocked Tulita’s fire chief Tim Tomezynski.

“We have been notified that the water level is high and we can see it here, but we did not expect to see the results that have occurred since the rupture and the flood began-absolutely terrible results. Surprised.”

“Since I worked here, this is the worst situation I have ever heard of.”

Road closed signs at Fort Simpson and warning tapes blocked a flooded road. Tulita Fire Chief Tim Tomezynski described the flood as horror: “This is the worst moment I have ever heard since I lived here.” (Janice in Norwegian)

He said that after watching what happened in the Jean Marie River, they and a company organized an activity to empty the lower level gasoline tanks of the small village if the water level rose to a certain height. They also set up signs to know when to remind residents to start preparing for evacuation and when they need to leave.

However, despite all these measures, there are still great uncertainties in the actual results.

Tomekinski said: “This year is really difficult to measure because the rivers behave differently and the ice layers behave differently. This is different from the past years.” He added that the seasons have become increasingly “unpredictable.”

Tomekinski said that they have been watching the river, and the residents in the huts above and below Tulita have been paying attention. So far, the Mackenzie has risen about eight feet, and there is a bit of crushed ice, but there is nothing to worry about.

“We are very worried… whether the Bear River will break. At that time, if the ice is blocked and blocked at the junction of the Bear River and Mackenzie, the water may wash up. The water, it may rise at a very fast rate. “

Tomekinski said that if the town is flooded, only residents living on lower roads will be affected. The school gym will be opened as an evacuation center, and he is encouraging people to stay with other family members.

“We are really trying our best to plan and prepare because we know how fast it will happen [and the] Destruction does make our resolve higher. “

The Minister of Municipal and Community Affairs will hold a meeting with communities in the Sahtu and Mackenzie Delta regions on Wednesday afternoon to review flood prevention preparations and see if they receive sufficient support from the territorial government.

Tomezynski hopes this will provide an opportunity for the community to not only share information about which methods work and which methods do not work, but also to support each other there.

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