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Aklavik has declared a state of emergency from flooding and evacuated over 100 of its residents to Inuvik.

Hamlet official Faith Gordon confirmed to Inuvik Drum a meeting was held at 9 a.m. on May 30 and the decision was made to evacuate the town.

The hamlet added all evacuees are allowed one bag and evacuation is voluntary. So far, 166 people have made the flight to Inuvik on two planes operated by Northwright Air and Aklak Air over 10 flights. A June 1 update from the GNWT said no further evacuations have been requested by the hamlet.

It’s it took two days to fully evacuate the hamlet. Residents were asked to keep their radios dialed to the local station for further emergency reports.

An eyewitness told Inuvik Drum water levels passed the roadway to the landfill overnight on May 29 and sirens were blaring all morning.

“There were a lot of trucks out,” said Deana Greenland. “They had a flood meeting at midnight, as the sewage lagoon access road flooded over.

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“First plane just left. Mostly young families with children.” 

A boy stops to suss out the situation in Aklavik late May 29. The hamlet has declared a state of emergency from flooding and is evacuating to Inuvik. photo courtesy of Deana Greenland

Aklavik had previously sent 25 Elders to Inuvik as a precaution.

Inuvik’s Midnight Sun Complex will serve as the reception centre for evacuees and a shelter for those who do not have a place to stay in town. The town is asking anyone who has an evacuee staying with them to make sure they register with the MSC upon arriving to town. Families staying at the MSC could include children as young as five years old.

Municipal and Community Affairs says 27 people are now staying at the MSC 17 adults and 10 children and three Elders are being housed at Aurora College.

The Town of Norman Wells has also offered to accommodate up to 100 people if needed. NWT Health and Social Services authority has sent four comfort care kits and 150 blankets to assist evacuees. Cleaning supplies and personal protection equipment have also been sent.

Outside guests, including friends and family of evacuees, are not permitted at the MSC for security purposes. The town says it will operate security at the complex on a 24/7 basis.

A truck moves along a road in Aklavik as water levels rise up to swallow the road. An evacuation is underway and planes are moving out of Aklavik. photo courtesy of DeAndra Michaela Greenland

The town is also asking anyone who can donate small items to help with the relief to contact Jackie Challis at 867-678-5398. The town is in need of bassinets, cribs and playpens, as well as diapers, wipes bottles and formula. The town asks residents to not donate clothing and to make sure items are properly sanitized.

The department of infrastructure has stocked cots and blankets and have contacted northern air carriers in preparation of an evacuation. Staff are also working to ensure government assets are on high ground and have also moved biomass from Moose Kerr school to higher elevation.

Northwest Territories Power Corporation has sent two technicians to assist at the power plant if flooding occurs and have constructed a temporary dam around the generator. Northwest Territories Housing Corporation reports that both water and sewage tanks have been pumped down to reduce internal pressure as a precaution and new hatches for the tanks have been flown in to secure them. Two workers remain on standby.

Anyone staying at the temporary shelter at the MSC will given accommodation and three meals a day. Evacuees who stay with friends or relatives will be on their own for food and services. No vouchers will be given out.

Premier Caroline Cochrane and Municipal and Community Affairs Minister Paulie Chinna issued a joint statement at 6 p.m., May 30.

“Officials with the Emergency Management Organization (EMO) are continuing to monitor the situation on the ground closely,” reads the statement. “The Inuvik Region EMO has been working closely with the Community of Aklavik to support the movement of evacuees to Inuvik. They are also working with the Town of Inuvik and regional partners to put evacuation arrangements in place to host evacuees. The territorial EMO has been supporting the Regional EMO with resources as required.

“Arrangements have been made to house evacuees at the Midnight Sun Complex in Inuvik, with 50 cots set up and the capacity for 50 more if needed, and the Town of Inuvik will be supporting efforts to provide food to evacuees.

Education, Culture and Employment stated that residents of Aklavik who are experiencing financial difficulties and wish to apply for Income Assistance are encouraged to contact a Client Services Officer in Inuvik toll-free at 1-855-283-9311 or 867-777-7365.

Floodwaters encroach on the main roads of Aklavik late May 29. A state of emergency has been declared and an evacuation order is underway. photo courtesy of Deana Greenland

Eric Bowling

Your source for all things happening in the Beaufort Delta. Eric jumped at the chance to write for the Inuvik Drum after cutting his teeth in Alberta. He enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee....

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