The Mackenzie Delta hamlet of Aklavik declared a state of emergency due to the risk of flooding, triggering a broader-scale evacuation of residents to nearby Inuvik.
On Friday, the community began evacuating Elders and vulnerable residents to Inuvik over the concern that ice jams on the Mackenzie River could push water levels higher.
That now expands to a voluntary evacuation of anyone affected by the floodwater, which has begun to breach the road leading to the community’s dump.
Inuvik officials spent Sunday turning the town’s Midnight Sun Complex into a reception centre for Aklavik’s evacuees, though many people are expected to stay with family and friends. Some Elders will be housed at Aurora College’s accommodation.
The Town of Inuvik said anyone arriving from Aklavik must register at the Midnight Sun Complex. Inuvik residents planning to host Aklavik evacuees can meet them at the rear of the complex’s community hall.
“Please do not bring anyone to your home without first having them register at the Midnight Sun Complex. This is very important,” the town told residents in a news release on Sunday.
The town said it was seeking donations of items for babies and small children, including cribs, playpens, diapers and wipes, and new bottles and formula. Donations should be brought to the curling club entrance at the Midnight Sun Complex. Anyone donating items should call 867-678-5398 prior to drop-off.
In Aklavik late on Saturday, Mayor Andrew Charlie said: “We’re going to be evacuating people early in the morning. We’ve lost the road to the dump and the water is quite high.
“I guess we’re going to start with mothers and small children and then we’ll go from there.”
Water at the hamlet – which lies in the Mackenzie Delta as the river reaches the Arctic Ocean – is said to have risen to the level set when Aklavik experienced its last major flood, in 2006.
Residents were told to listen to the community radio station and conserve water.
Aklavik, some 50 km south of the Arctic coast, is one of the last communities to face a flooding threat as ice on the Mackenzie River breaks up each spring.
This year has proved one of the worst for flooding in the NWT in living memory.
Hay River’s Vale Island, the entirety of Jean Marie River, and much of Fort Simpson’s island have flooded and forced evacuations, while some homes in Fort Good Hope were partly submerged earlier this week.