Mayor Andrew Charlie says Aklavik homes have so far escaped significant damage during a state of emergency brought on by rising floodwater.
Charlie said he believed just under 170 of the hamlet’s 600 or so residents had been evacuated to Inuvik by Monday morning. Many have chosen to remain in place as the water level fluctuates.
“The levels are still high. It comes down once in a while and goes back up,” Charlie told Cabin Radio as he surveyed a service road to Aklavik’s dump, which remains underwater. A local gas station has shut down after water approached the pumps.
“Right now, the river is free of ice so that’s not a concern,” he said. “The concern is the water level could rise again.
“We expect something like this year after year so for us it’s nothing new. We prepare for this every year.
“Right now, there’s no real major damages to any units. There are maybe a few residents that have to get to their unit by boat.”
By Sunday evening, the Town of Inuvik said it had accommodated 25 Elders and 141 other evacuees from Aklavik. Some are staying with friends and family, while others are at the Midnight Sun Complex or Aurora College accommodation.
“While we are unsure as to the potential length of time evacuees will remain in our community, the Town of Inuvik remains committed to ensuring their well-being while in our care,” the town said in a statement.
Inuvik is now seeking volunteer breakfast cooks and servers and help desk attendants. Volunteers can offer their time by calling 867-678-5398.
On Sunday, Premier Caroline Cochrane and municipal and community affairs minister Paulie Chinna said the NWT government was working with local leaders.
“As river break-up and the flooding risk continues to change rapidly, it is still too early to speculate on potential damages or recovery requirements,” the pair said in a joint statement.
“The GNWT is closely monitoring the situation and will be addressing these issues as quickly as possible when it is safe and possible to do so.
“This is a difficult and challenging time for everyone in Aklavik right now. As residents did with the flooding in Jean Marie River, Fort Good Hope and Fort Simpson earlier this month, we hope that everyone will come together and support those impacted.”
Meaghan Brackenbury contributed reporting.