State of emergency declared in Aklavik, N.W.T., as flood waters rise

North

In a notice issued overnight, the hamlet's mayor and council said evacuations could start Sunday morning, after water crossed the road leading to the dump.

Water began flooding over the road to the garbage dump in Aklavik, N.W.T., overnight, prompting the hamlet to declare a state of emergency.(Mina McLeod/Facebook)

A state of emergency has been declared in Aklavik, N.W.T., after water started rising over the road that leads to the hamlet's dump, according to a statement issued by its mayor and council overnight.

Residents will start being evacuated from their homes Sunday morning between 9:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m local time, the statement said.

The remote community of roughly 600 people has been on flood watch for about a week.

Mayor Andrew Charlie told CBC News on Saturday afternoon that once a state of emergency is declared, residents could start being voluntarily evacuated to Inuvik, which is about 55 kilometres northeast of Aklavik.

Roughly 26 elders and vulnerable people had already been evacuated from their homes as of Friday evening, he said, when water levels were as high as about 15 metres.

"I think the last time we were in a major flood, we were at 16.8 metres," Charlie said.

Aklavik is the latest of several communities in the Northwest Territories to be affected by historic flooding on the Mackenzie River, caused by the spring breakup. The hamlet is on the bank of the Peel Channel, which is fed by the Mackenzie River further upstream.

"It's dropping some ice down the Peel Channel, which is coming by the community," said Charlie. "We're also getting ice down the Aklavik Channel, just about a mile north of us here, so there's a lot of ice coming."

Charlie said most homes have been built on platforms that are lifted off the ground because of past floods.

"The danger is our fuel tanks, chances of them toppling over. We have a few sewer tanks in the ground, sitting on the ground, they'll be able to float around, bust up people's houses," he said.

"But other than that, it's something we go through annually and we continue to do that. We're prepared."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Liny Lamberink is a reporter for CBC North. She previously worked for CBC London as a reporter and newsreader. She can be reached at liny.lamberink@cbc.ca

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