Residents of Paradise Gardens have been ordered to evacuate due to flood risk, according to a Sunday notice from the Town of Hay River.
The municipality sent out of the notice via its Facebook page at 5 p.m., stating that people living in the 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.
The order follows the town’s notices over the weekend ordering people in Vale Island and the West Channel to leave for safer accommodations as flood water and ice pour into those neighbourhoods.
The town is advising people in Paradise Gardens to relocate to homes of friends and family; to an RV park provided at the community centre; to the town’s evacuation centre at the arena, where a cot and blanket will be provided with some food; or commercial accommodations, like a hotel.
Mayor Kandis Jameson called the flooding conditions throughout the town unprecedented, much worse than last year and the worst she has ever seen.
She pointed out that the weekend has been challenging, with a power outage taking place on Friday night on top of freezing rain and a snowstorm throughout most of the weekend while the river was breaking up.
“Mother Nature’s fickle and water goes to the path of least resistance, but let’s be honest, this isn’t what we were expecting,” Jameson said. “Last year, we got really lucky because it didn’t affect a whole bunch of people because of where (water and ice) went out. But this year everybody is affected on Vale Island right now.
“I’ve never seen (the water) this high. I can see it behind my house and it’s never been this high or as high as last year with the last push.”
Jameson repeated the town’s message on Sunday that it’s important for everyone to get off the island as the top priority for the municipality is to protect residents and assets.
“I was down there on 100, 101, and 102 (streets) and they look like rivers,” she said. “There’s a lot of water… this week we still have a lot of water coming at us, and ice.”
While some of the island homes are still on high ground, the concern is when more water comes in, it will make it difficult to get out of the area, especially as the Mackenzie Highway is washed out.
“Once you’re surrounded by water, you can’t come and go as you might like,” the mayor said, noting that even if people hunker down with groceries for a week, there could be instances where the town could turn the power off as needed and staying in home may be unwise.
“The houses themselves are doing fine, but not their yards, by any means. It’s just not good.
“We would prefer that people find alternate arrangements. That is the message and a very strong one.”
Town officials were expected to debrief on Monday morning, Jameson added.
Chris Shaver, owner of Northern Greens on 102 Street in Old Town, and his partner Nicolinea are going through their first spring breakup season.
He said he had expected to ride out the flood by staying on Vale Island with his business while the rest of his family stayed at Ptarmigan Inn. While water appeared to peak overnight on Saturday, he said by Sunday he conceded it was no longer possible to stay put.
“From what I hear from town and community centre, the ice is backed up past Paradise Gardens and at record levels,” he said. “They don’t think this is going to end very well.”
Shaver’s home sits about two metres off the ground and at the height of Saturday night’s flooding, water reached the crawlspace, where a pump has been working, he said.
While water conditions were tolerable by Sunday, Shaver said if conditions worsen, there aren’t many options to leave the location.