Three quads were swept into the ocean near Paulatuk as record rainfall over the last week left creeks running high and water pooling across the hamlet.
Thunderstorms may also have triggered power outages at critical facilities, the Arctic coastal community’s mayor, Ray Ruben Sr, told Cabin Radio after days of heavy rain.
September 5 goes down as Paulatuk’s wettest day on record, Environment and Climate Change Canada said in a series of tweets.
According to the federal agency, the community of 310 people received 52.4 mm of rain over 24 hours, breaking the previous record of 32 mm set on August 8, 2010.
September 1 and September 6 also broke 24-hour rainfall records, ECCC tweeted, reporting more than 23 mm of rain on days where the previous records had been around 10 mm.
Mayor Ruben said “unusually high” water levels meant harvesters returning from a hunting trip had found creeks they needed to cross running much faster than when they had headed out.
“The creeks were running so badly that two of the quads were pushed out into the ocean,” he said, noting the hunters then had to walk back to Paulatuk. A third quad sent to help retrieve the first two was swept away while crossing a different creek, Ruben reported.
The mayor said everyone involved returned home safely, though cold and wet. He was unsure if the quads had been successfully recovered.
“We expect this kind of weather at this time of the year, but there seems to be quite a bit more rain than any normal fall,” he said.
“We’ve had flooding all over town again, there are patches of puddles all over … It’s almost like spring melt with so much water in these areas again.”
Ruben suspects thunderstorms rolling across the community were also responsible for knocking out power at Paulatuk’s nursing station and community freezer.
The mayor added rain had ruined the hamlet’s plan to take Elders up the peninsula to Cape Parry, to visit an old cemetery site.
“Again, the weather let us down – it’s too wet and too cold,” he said.
Ruben hopes the trip can take place next year, adding there is a sense of urgency brought on in part by the rain.
The mayor said the hamlet has been told by workers checking on old DEW Line sites that the cemetery area has suffered significant erosion, caused in part by mudslides from recent rain.