‘It’s overwhelming’: Yukon people strive to save their homes from floods
For the past two weeks, Yukoner Florian Lemphers has been watching the water getting closer and closer to his home. On the outer edge of his shallow bay property, a 5-foot-high fence is now only exposed a few inches above the waterline.
“It’s very, very sad. We have been here for 38 years and we have never seen anything like this before,” he said on Monday.
“For the past 38 years, putting this place together has been a labor of love, and it’s hard to see it threatened this way. So we are doing our best.”
Lemphers — Florian and Andrea, and their son Justin — have been working overtime, working with friends and other volunteers to fill sandbags and build berms around the house in the deteriorating floods in the area. The shallow bay is located on Lake Laberge, which was placed in a state of emergency by the territorial government a few days ago along with the southern lakes. Hundreds of residents in these areas are still under evacuation alert.
Justin grew up in that house and he said it was “heartbreaking” to see it threatened.
Justin said: “This is irresistible, there is really no other word to describe it.”
Lemphers are not sure at this point whether the home can be saved, or whether they are just “preventing the inevitable.”
“Doing everything well does not mean you won the battle,” Justin said.
Baima is also preparing
More than 500,000 sandbags have been filled and transported to the threatened area. On Tuesday, another 500,000 sandbags will be delivered to the area.
Some of the sandbags will be transported to Whitehorse, where the swelling Yukon River may also overflow the banks in some places.
In a speech to the City Council on Monday night, Acting City Manager Valbraga stated that officials are focusing on several “priority areas”, including the Robert Campbell Bridge to Riverdale, Wickstrom Road, Marwell and Millennium Trail .
“We have begun to realize that there are some problems with groundwater in the Marwell area, and we will continue to monitor there,” Braga said.
She said that there will be an “action plan” for each field, and the work may continue for several weeks. The city is still considering whether it needs more equipment to protect certain areas.
“We ask the public to just pay attention to sandbags when you are on the Millennium Trail-we have already experienced some damage from sandbags and sign tapes,” she said.
Sandbags to and from the city
Also in Whitehorse, some local tour operators have joined forces to make it easier for residents to help by filling sandbags. Starting from Tuesday, the Tourism Industry Association (TIA) will organize daily shuttles from the city center to areas that require additional personnel.
TIA executive director Blake Rogers (Blake Rogers) said: “We think that many operators now have shuttle buses… this summer business has not really flourished anyway, so there is a lot of capacity there.”
“So we thought, let’s see if we can bring people together.”
He said the shuttle departs from the White Pass building in the city center several times a day. People should expect to leave for about three hours, and they should bring their own water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, and, if available, a shovel.
Rogers said: “This is a very good opportunity for people to go out and participate.”
“We hope that Yukonians will be open to potential tourists who hop on the shuttle bus and head to the area.”
Florian Lemphers said that the help of strangers has made a huge difference-not only the dike surrounding his house now, but also his mentality.
“If we lose this place-we have all the possibilities-the thing that makes it all worthwhile is that we have to meet all these incredible people who show up and volunteer their time,” he said.
Rogers said the sandbag shuttle will take people to where they need it most at any given time. More details, including shuttle schedules, Can be found on the TIA website.