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Dehcho

PSAC and union provide $60K to NWT flood relief

Last modified: May 13, 2021 at 9:49am


The Public Service Alliance of Canada Social Justice Fund and Union of Northern Workers are providing $60,000 in emergency relief funding to support residents impacted by flooding in Fort Simpson and Jean Marie River.

United Way NWT will administer the funds to qualifying relief organizations. 

“This is a time of upheaval for communities that are already feeling the weight of pandemic fatigue,” union president Todd Parsons said in a statement.

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“The residents of the affected areas are top of mind right now as we work with PSAC and the United Way NWT to provide financial aid to the organizations on the ground who can best assist those in need.”

Hundreds of people in Dehcho communities have been displaced by flooding in the past week, driven by the breakup of the Liard River. An evacuation order for Hay River’s Vale Island was lifted on Monday

“We have not seen a situation this dangerous in many, many years,” Dene National Chief Norman Yakeleya said in a separate statement on Wednesday evening.

“People are struggling, both those who have been evacuated and those who haven’t been able to cross the waters safely.”

Residents have been helping those impacted by flooding through online fundraisers, Facebook groups sharing information and resources, and even an open-mic night held in Fort Smith earlier this week.

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The Dene Nation said it had established a “flood relief command centre” as a central point for operations, information gathering and sharing, and coordination with governments and organizations.

As of Thursday morning, water levels in Fort Simpson had receded slightly but remained well above 15 metres, the evacuation threshold.

Residents arriving into the community with supplies on Wednesday reported an increase in the number of people preparing to leave for Fort Smith. One told Cabin Radio the “reality of the disaster is sinking in.”

Inhabitants of Jean Marie River, meanwhile, are only just beginning to map out how they will rebuild the community after many homes were flooded.

At the same time, attention turns to the communities downriver such as Tulita, Norman Wells, and Fort Good Hope.

In Fort Good Hope, residents began a flood watch on Wednesday and moved to assist families living in some of the homes considered most likely to flood.

Ollie Williams contributed reporting.

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