It was Wednesday night around 11:08 p.m. when Jennifer Tweedie realized she needed to evacuate her Hay River home.
“I was FaceTiming my husband and I could see the water starting to rise over West Channel Bridge Road,” she said. “Eight minutes later there was three feet of river running through our yard.”
The couple live on Saskatoon Drive and weren’t included in the Town’s evacuation notice.
“But I knew we were in danger,” said Tweedie, who teaches Grade 5/6 at Princess Alexandra School in Hay River.
In fact, she says she had a feeling that the flood waters were coming and had moved her valuables from the basement just days before.
Alvin Pitre, 64, Tweedie’s husband arrived home quickly, and they drove off together in one of their vehicles.
They left the other car behind — now “toast,” Tweedie said.
For one night, they stayed at a friend’s home in Hay River who lived on higher ground, and over the course of the night, they heard sirens and chaos.
“It was triggering,” she said.
By Thursday morning, May 12, the couple decided to seek refugee in Yellowknife.
“By that point so many friends reached out to us to help. We’ve been in the North for 23 years and felt so supported. We had supper with a different friend’s house each night we were in Yellowknife.”
Feeling “recharged” by the hospitality, the couple drove back home on May 16.
When they returned around 6:30 p.m., the found their basement completely ruined, but nothing of major value lost, which Tweedie credits to acting on her intuition.
“I wish I wasn’t right but I was,” she said.
The power was out and they had no heat, so the couple slept in toques.
Their home insurance, as is standard, will not cover the damage as it’s considered an ‘Act of God’, so they must rely on the GNWT’s Disaster Assistance Policy to recover.
“The GNWT has really stepped up. We have $240,000 available to us but it’s not a blank check — we will have to hand in receipts and assessor’s are coming in today to survey the damage,” said Tweedie.
Tradesman will be coming in to remove the drywall, and they have set up humidifiers.
For the clean up, it’s all hands on deck — including two of Tweedie’s students, Donavin Rodger-Evans and Corbin Scheller.
“They showed up and said, ‘We are here to help you Ms. Tweedie!’ And I gave them a big hug and put them to work!” she laughed.
“We feel very supported, even though this is monumental, because of the help of the entire northern community, we are able to take this on,” said Tweedie.