Evacuation order issued for all of Hay River, N.W.T.

An evacuation order was issued for the entire community of Hay River, N.W.T., at 11:45 p.m. MT Tuesday, with residents asked to head to higher ground or the community centre. 

“Residents can also travel by road to Enterprise and await there for more information,” reads a Facebook post from the Town of Hay River.

Those in need of transportation assistance are asked to call 833-699-0188. People who leave the community are asked to register at the same number or on the town’s website.

Those who head to Yellowknife are asked to go directly to the Multiplex at 41 Kam Lake Road. 

Water floods the street outside the Whispering Willows seniors complex in downtown Hay River. (Emma Grunwald/CBC)

The order for the entire community of about 3,500 came days after flooding reached the small satellite community of Paradise Gardens and threatened Hay River’s Old Town, followed by the entirety of Vale Island. 

The order came just 45 minutes after an evacuation order had been issued for all riverfront properties.

‘It’s unbelievable’

Threats to the community’s “new town” — which was built in response to a major flood in 1963 — were viewed as unlikely by many. 

A street in Hay River’s new town, east of the Hay River Highway, is pictured shortly after an evacuation order was issued for the entire community of about 3,500. (Juanita Taylor/CBC)

Roy Helmer told CBC’s Juanita Taylor he’s lived in the community his whole life. 

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said shortly after the order was issued. “It’s unbelievable. The river gets high but nothing like this.

“I just see water coming through all the trees there.”

Asked whether he would leave, Helmer said he wasn’t sure where he would go.

Video shot by the CBC’s Emma Grunwald showed emergency workers in hip waders leading people through knee-deep water outside the town’s liquor store. Water has also flooded the street in front of the Whispering Willows seniors complex. 

Video shared by April Martel, chief of K’atl’odeeche First Nation, captured the sound of the town’s air siren going off, which awoke many. 

Another video posted to Facebook by resident Darlene Lamb shows water inundating the streets downtown. 

“This is where the theatre is; it’s all flooded,” Lamb says in the video. 

A tweet from Mikey McBryan of Buffalo Air at 11:43 p.m. said the community was hit by a flash flood and the Hay River airport, located on Vale Island, was shut down. 

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