Extended conversations between the City of Yellowknife and the Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) regarding the ongoing flood have resulted in the City potentially playing a bigger role to help out community members in Hay River.
Initially, the City was approached in said conversations and asked to help the community of Fort Simpson should flooding impact its residents significantly.
“What they said to us, in mid-April, was if we could be prepared to accept any potential evacuees from Fort Simpson, they were working on a system where Hay River and Fort Smith would support each other,” city manager Sheila Bassi-Kellett said.
“Jean Marie River has a solution that’s relevant to their own community, they’re going to higher ground,” she continued. “Nahanni Butte is working out things on their own as well, so we were asked to be prepared to accept evacuees potentially, if needed, from Fort Simpson.”
However, due to the current impacts of the Hay River flood, the GNWT would reapproach the City on May 9 to discuss helping with sheltering the communities evacuees.
“We’ve been in discussions today that, in the event that this has to happen, that there needs to be any kind of an evacuation of people from Hay River,” Bassi-Kellett said. “If that is the case, we have been asked if we can be prepared to welcome and shelter some of the evacuees that would come here.”
Cabin Radio and CBC North have both reported evacuations numbers in the range of 250 people from Hay River’s riverfront properties.
“It’s very, very relevant today, as we all watch, quite horrified with what’s going on in Hay River right now,” Bassi-Kellett said. “The worst flooding they’ve seen in 50 or 60 years.”
“We would take one of our facilities, the Yellowknife Community Arena, or if there are more than 150 evacuees, we would be looking at possibly the multiplex,” she continued.
“We have cots up to about 150, we will be supplied with more cots by the GNWT’s EMO. They’re doing the coordination of bringing people out of communities when they have to. GNWT takes care of registering who’s arrived and any food and any other needs that people have. So we’re working really closely and in the event that we do need to provide support. We, of course, will be ready to do so.”