A Canadian city is evacuated after ice flakes cause flooding

Residents of Hay River, on the south side of Great Slave Lake, have been ordered to leave and seek shelter, according to a Thursday press release from the city.

Hay River is about a five and a half hour drive around Lake Yellowknife.

“This is a difficult time for our community,” the city of Hay River said in an updated press release Friday. “Keep in mind that people today are tired, worried and under a lot of stress. Be kind to each other. Take actions that are productive to get through this together.”

City residents are not allowed to return home because “their presence here is detrimental to our recovery efforts,” the press release said.

There is no road access in certain areas, including the Vale Island Zone, and “the availability of essential services including health, food, transportation etc.” has not been confirmed in the city, according to the release.

Multiple rescues have been carried out and property damage has been reported in the city, an earlier report said.

Photos taken by Tyler Martel in Hay River show flood damage in the area.

Tyler Martel, who lives in the Hays River area, told CNN he chose not to evacuate despite the evacuation order.

“What a night this has been. The whole city is evacuating from floods…half the city has water and ice,” Martel said on Facebook with photos of the aftermath of severe flooding. “I’ve never seen this in my life and hope never to see it again. Stay safe everyone…”

By Friday afternoon, the water appeared to be receding in some areas, but “anything can still happen,” Martel told CNN.

“The city was not prepared, because this has not happened before with the south side of the bridge,” he added, “The old city north of the bridge, it is common to have high water in the spring, because it’s an island.”

The city first advised residents on April 7 to be prepared for the potential for flooding from the ice breakup. Warmer temperatures, melting snow and rising water levels have all played a role in the flooding in recent weeks.

A local state of emergency and evacuation order came into effect for the area on 7 May.

“Community access is limited to emergency and essential services.” according to the press release. “The city will switch completely from response to recovery activities once the risk of disintegration has been reduced and the hazards associated with the floods have diminished.”

Mikey McBryan, a resident of Yellowknife on the north side of Great Slave Lake, captured video on Thursday of a plane flying over the area, showing the Hay River Merlyn Carter Airport runway underwater, and ice chunks in the surrounding river.

McBryan told CNN that his parents live in Hay River and have damage to their basement and yard. The airport told the community it would be at least a week before services resume, he added.

“Best of all, the community stays together,” McBryan said. “Everyone participates and stays together.”

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