The feeling of shock was just one of the many emotions Bhreagh Ingarfield said she felt when her Hay River home was hit by the flooding impacting the area.

For Ingarfield and Thomas Whittaker, who moved from Yellowknife in mid-September of 2021, their Hay River home was located in the area of Paradise Gardens.

The flood’s impact was something that took them very much by surprise.

“We just kept thinking this isn’t really going to happen,” Ingarfield said. “The water levels dropped a bit and we stopped worrying totally, then all of a sudden we got a knock on our door from one of our neighbors, Roger.”

“We have a metal roof on our house so (the) phone alert didn’t come through,” she continued. “(Roger) said it’s overflowing over the bank. Get what you need for the next little bit and you gotta go now, get your truck and leave now.”

The town sent out of the notice on Sunday, May 8, through Facebook page at 5 p.m., stating that people living in the Paradise Gardens area should make their way to the Hay River Community Centre to register their names or call 833-699-0188, or use the online registration form at www.hayriver.com/breakup.

Excessive flooding from spring breakup and ice blocks floating through Hay River appear from the K’atlodeeche First Nation Reserve. Several people in Hay River, including in Vale Island and West Channel have been evacuated to drier locations while others in flood risk zones are being asked to closely monitor rising water levels. photo courtesy of Margaret McKay

“(It’s) just shocking,” Ingarfield said. “I think that’s been the general state of mind for ourselves, as well as a lot of people around us, our neighbours, and folks in Hay River.”

“You think that when you’re in these situations, and you get the alert, everything will be clear,” she continued. “You’ll just do step by step what needs to be done, but when it comes down to how things actually happened, it was pretty chaotic.”

On top of her own situation, Ingarfield provided an overview of what residents of Hay River have been experiencing since the flood’s occurrence.

“There’s houses that our neighbours have where they had to let the their cattle free,” she said. “They didn’t have any time. There’s houses that are being kind of destroyed as we’re speaking right now. Which is just, it’s heartbreaking for them. It’s heartbreaking for everyone.”

Back in 1963, the East Channel of Vale Island and Dene Village were a part of a significant flood that resides as a dark mark on the town’s history. Now, nearly 60 years later, residents are once again feeling that mark.

“So when things started flooding, we kind of went ‘oh, oh my god, it’s another 1963’,” Ingarfield said. “It’s gonna be bad for some of these other folks.”

Emergency service beds used by Thomas Whittaker and Bhreagh Ingarfield following the flood having affected their home in Hay River’s Paradise Gardens. Photo courtesy of Bhreagh Ingarfield/Facebook

Ingarfield and Whittaker were staying at the community centre for a time, but now they’re working on getting supplies in order to help support in whatever relieve they can provide.

“It feels like watching your house burn and not being able to do anything is kind of the state we’re in right now,” she said. “So that’s why we’ve come to Yellowknife, to try to kind of get together as many supplies and equipment as we can.”

“We’re just so focused on getting back to paradise and working with the neighbors to clear things out,” she continued. “We really have a pretty close knit community there. There’s probably about 50 people around there, and everyone just kind of jumps in to help each other when things go wrong.

“When the waters go down, everyone’s gonna need to do that even more than usual. So we’re just focused on getting waders, a trash pump, anything at all, anything to kind of fend off the molds. Dehumidifiers. It’s the list is pretty endless.”

A written description from the couple of Thomas Whittaker and Bhreagh Ingarfield asking for any and all supplies that can be given to help support the flooded affected community of Hay River. Photo courtesy of Bhreagh Ingarfield

Ingarfield also wished to extend a thank you to a facebook group titled ‘Hay River Helps’, who have been assisting flood affected residents by providing clothing, available living space, and essential care items among other items.

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