Early assessments suggest ‘extensive damage’ throughout Hay River
Overnight flooding has caused “extensive damage throughout the community,” Town of Hay River officials said in a written statement early on Thursday morning.
The town was evacuated late on Wednesday as floodwater reached the downtown, an outcome not previously considered likely. By 6am on Thursday, the water had not subsided.
If anything, the situation was worsening as the morning progressed.
“Another push and release of the ice system is currently occurring through town. Any residents still in the community should be on high ground or take shelter at the community centre,” town officials said shortly after 8am.
“Additional pushes may follow.”
Police have now shut off access to Hay River. The town said anyone trying to reach the community by road would be turned away by RCMP at the start of Highway 2 south of the town.
“Those in Hay River are encouraged to stay put in current accommodations and not travel through the community due to hazards throughout the town,” officials stated.
“A preliminary damage assessment will commence today and will need to be completed before any safe access to the community can be granted.”
More information is expected later on Thursday.
In Yellowknife, the city’s multiplex has opened to accommodate evacuees. Some residents are thought to have made for Fort Smith or northern Alberta.
Flooding has reached unprecedented levels in Hay River as water from a weekend of rain across the river basin reaches ice jams in the two river channels that straddle the town. With nowhere to go, that water is overflowing into the town.
“Ice jams currently extend from the West and East Channels to Delancey Estates area,” the town said on Thursday morning. “Water levels remain very high.”