South Slave

Evacuation alert issued for Hay River’s Vale Island, West Channel

Last modified: May 2, 2020 at 5:44pm


The Town of Hay River on Saturday stepped up its evacuation warning for residents in the Vale Island and West Channel areas of the community.

Earlier in the week, officials had issued an evacuation notice warning that the possibility of a flood lay ahead. On Saturday that was upgraded to an evacuation alert.

The alert means residents in those areas are “advised to be prepared to evacuate on short notice due to risk of flooding.”

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If an evacuation becomes necessary, an evacuation order will be issued.

Summing up the situation as of Saturday evening, the Town said in a statement: “Hopefully this alert is 48 hours in advance of any activity locally.

“We are still hoping for the best but planning for the worst-case scenario.”

Earlier, in a separate message, Hay River’s protective services team had urged residents planning to use RVs for emergency accommodation to set them up at the community centre RV park ahead of time.

“Residents should prepare to transport pets, clothing bag, emergency kits, medicines, and IDs,” the Town said.

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On Monday, Hay River’s director of protective services had said he was “concerned” by the way breakup of the river ice was developing farther south.

Vale Island is particularly vulnerable to flooding. After a bad flood in 1963, when Vale Island’s east channel was submerged, many Hay River residents relocated from the region to safer ground upstream.

Hay River has spent weeks designing an evacuation plan that can work around Covid-19 pandemic restrictions. For example, the ban on indoor gatherings means affected residents can’t simply move to relatives’ houses.

Some 100 households will be accommodated in local hotels if an evacuation is needed, with places to stay being assigned based on mobility, family size, pets, and other factors.

An RV camp has been established next to the community centre with power hookups for 30 sites.

The remaining 100 or so people would be sent to Yellowknife should an evacuation be necessary.

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