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UPDATE: Evacuation order in place following Paradise Gardens flood surge

The Town of Hay River reported that evacuation orders remained in place for residents of Vale Island, West Channel and Paradise Gardens as of noon, Monday.
A photo by the Water Survey of Canada and GNWT on May 9on the Hay River near the municipality shows river conditions still extremely high and ice yet to push through. photo courtesy of Water Survey of Canada and GNWT.

The Town of Hay River reported that evacuation orders remained in place for residents of Vale Island, West Channel and Paradise Gardens as of noon, Monday.

Conditions along the river include broken and jammed ice through the West and East Channels all the way to Paradise Gardens. As a result, more ice and water are expected to be released and make contact with the main jam, according to the municipality’s advisory.

Residents along the river front within the community’s boundaries all remain on evacuation alert, including the Corridor, Miron Drive, McBryan Drive, Capital Drive and Riverview Drive.

According to a public update from the town at noon, residents within the area of the evacuation order should be staying at alternative locations and registered through the municipality’s registration centre.

“Significant flooding occurred Sunday evening at Paradise Gardens through a large surge of ice and water into the area,” town officials stated in the advisory.

“Onsite emergency crews supported a full evacuation of the area. Emergency crews including the Coast Guard auxiliary and local contractors lead a difficult rescue within the community boundaries of Enterprise shortly after the Paradise evacuation.”

Alex McMeekin, owner of Riverside Growers at Paradise Gardens said on Monday morning that he had hung back as the water was breaching the river, but he had little positive news.

“It’s not very good,” he admitted. “I stuck it out hear at the house and I have actively been trying to deal with the water since about 5 a.m.

“The images on Facebook really tells you everything. Water is going across the road and hard to say and ….full blowing across hundreds of metres.

“Most people and everybody are out but there is still a good chunk of livestock that are down here.”

East Channel

The town also reported that there has been periodic flooding along the East Channel that has resulted in several highway closures.

“Staff at the bridge are managing access,” reads the statement.

“Water and ice levels are currently extremely high along the banks of the Hay River throughout town. Increases in water levels associated with pending pushes and jamming can result in flooding along riverfront properties.”

Weather conditions

High snowfall and blizzard-like conditions late Sunday and into the night were posing ‘significant challenges’ for operations during the flood and breakup, town officials stated

“A snowfall warning remains in effect today (Monday)for the Hay River region (and) temperatures will primarily be below zero degrees for the next few days.”

Both the town and the GNWT Department of Environment and Natural Resources stated on Monday that water levels in Northern Alberta were increasing through Sunday with the high levels of snow and rain. More was expected through Monday, including in Hay River and may lead to continued challenges to highway travel and other transportation infrastructure.

ENR reported that as of 9 a.m. there had not been ice coming north into Alberta for more than 36 hours and although the stormy weather was weakening, a snowfall warning was in effect and there was an expected two to five centimetres in the afternoon.

“Hay River tributaries have shown rapid rises over the past 48 hours,” a statement from ENR said on Monday. “In some cases, these rises have subsided, but there will be another pulse of water as recent snowfall over the basin melts”

“The water level response on the Hay River and its tributaries to precipitation is very rapid at this time of year due to low basin storage and frozen ground.”

A message was left with the GNWT Department of Infrastructure for comment on Sunday night, however responses were not available as of early Monday afternoon.