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Residents of Jean Marie River are preparing for a possible evacuation at this hour.

Water levels climbed quickly Friday evening.

“Half the airport is gone,” said Chief Stanley Sanguez.

Sanguez indicated that the community is safe and waiting on word from MLA Shane Thompson on whether or not they would be transported to Yellowknife.

“The water rushed in so quickly,” he said. “Hopefully it will just drop.”

Officials have warned of high water levels in recent weeks as a result of greater rain and snowmelt this past year.

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Though water levels are much higher than in past years, Sanguez said the conditions were not as dire as 1963. He said the community has no memory of water levels higher than they were that year.

Evacuation orders have been issued for residents of the Vale Island area of Hay River, about 360 kilometres east of JMR.

Community members’ posts on the Jean Marie River Facebook page indicate how quickly the Mackenzie River rose.

One resident wrote at approximately 8 p.m. that residents were packing up their stuff, and then again shortly after 10 p.m. that evacuation seemed to be imminent.

Sanguez said that members of the Dehcho community were standing on “the high side” of the river as a twin otter plane checked ice conditions overhead.

This story will be updated.

Natalie Pressman

Reporting courts and cops and general news, Natalie started with NNSL Media in 2020. Before moving to Yellowknife, Natalie worked as a community radio trainer in Iskatewizaagegan #39 Independent First...

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