All properties along the Hay River were given a precautionary evacuation alert on Sunday due to increasing risk of flooding.

The Town of Hay River issued the standby notices shortly after 8:30 p.m. for the Corridor, Miron Drive, McBryan Drive, Capital Drive and Riverview Drive.

In the instance that an evacuation is necessary, the town notice stated that it would follow up with further information.

The alert notice followed an evacuation order at Paradise Gardens earlier in the evening and orders for Vale Island and the West Channel overnight Friday.

Further information updates and developments will continue through the municipality’s website and Facebook page.

The Town of Hay River also has an emergency measures phone system for assistance at 833-699-0188.

Areas of the community were seeing immediate impacts throughout the weekend as flooding and ice water damage were worsening.

Jane Groenewegen, owner of Cambridge Executive Suites, said check-ins were especially busy on Friday night with check-ins from a Marine Training Services camp and the Marine Training Centre in addition to people seeking shelter when the evacuation order for Vale Island was issued at 2 a.m. on Saturday.

“We kind of missed a full night of sleep there because we heard the initial evacuation alert go out at two o’clock (Saturday morning) and by the time we got everybody checked in, it was like almost 4:30 a.m.,” said Groenewegen.

“We have been pretty well full. I felt badly when the (K’atlodeeche) reserve started to flood Saturday night and they were calling looking for places. By that time, most of our places were already sold.”

At the Ptarmigan Inn on Sunday night, a staff member indicated that there were a few rooms left, however the employee directed inquiries to operations manager Tanya Morais, who wasn’t immediately available Sunday night.

The municipality had protective services employees working all weekend in preparation for worsening conditions ahead.

A widely-shared online post on Sunday night by firefighter Vince McKay issued a warning for residents to be ready.

“It’s important for everyone to be prepared for the worst-case scenario,” he wrote. “The water and ice coming have never been seen before. I have spent years watching breakup.

“Never seen Paradise Gardens flood and that’s coming. The wave in front of the ice will hit Hay River first.”

McKay warned people not to sleep in basements and to remove their valuables stored below ground level. He also advised to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

“The ‘Oh come on… that ain’t going to happen’ attitude is not going to work,” he added. “The fire dept is on 100 per cent standby for the worst-case scenario. However, obviously limited resources. Please help and be prepared… I have never seen anything like this.”

Members of the Hay River Seniors Society were volunteering to prepare food for service workers, civilian volunteers and other personnel from the Whispering Willows building downtown.

“Since Friday we have just been pressing food and making sandwiches and taking them to the fire hall,” said Sandra Lester who is helping to organize.

“Today (Sunday) we distributed breakfast sandwiches and we made a bunch of soups and had them so that (service people) could come in and grab a soup and grab a sandwich.

“We are making breakfast for Monday morning and making a big pot of chili. We will be making another 100 sandwiches that we will prepare every couple of days.”

At the Hay River Music Club, Linda Duford and Alida McKay sent out a musical tribute to crews and volunteers with an online performance of Johnny Cash’s Five Feet High a Rising, a song that asks: how high is the water, mama?

“We just got our emergency alerts on our phone and we have to be on high standby in case we get evacuated so we thought it would be a perfect time to do a little song by Johnny Cash,” Duford said on Sunday night.

Scott Clouthier started a Facebook page on Sunday night called Hay River Helps, to provide residents needing a way to communicate their needs during the flood.

“Please post anything you’re in need of, or anything you want to offer to those who need it,” he wrote.

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin College and the University of Ottawa. Simon can be reached at...

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