The Siksika Nation, which is just east of Calgary is working on making roads passable as many rural areas of southern Alberta contend with overland flooding.
The nation declared a week-long state of local emergency on Monday that could be extended if the flooding persists.
It has said more than half of the 560 kilometres of roads that criss-cross Canada’s second-largest reserve have been washed out as large volumes of snow melt.
Stewart Breaker, who is in charge of the emergency response, says roads are drying up thanks to warming temperatures.
But he says he expects most of the snow to melt over the weekend and authorities are assessing the situation every day.
Keon Doore, who is in charge of public works for the Siksika Nation, says roads have been closed to school buses and vehicles over 2,500 kilograms to avoid further damage.
“It became a safety factor, particularly for the little kids,” Doore said in an update Wednesday. “A lot of these roads are still really rough for a bus to travel on, so little kids are bouncing around on the buses and there’s no seatbelts.”
Watch below: Overland flooding on the Siksika First Nation is being called a crisis. Over half the roads are impassable and some residents are stranded. Jill Croteau reports. (Filed April 17, 2018).
He said graders and gravel trucks are working on smoothing out the main thoroughfares.
Anyone who drives on flooded roads does so at their own risk, Doore added. A tow ban has been instituted, meaning no tow trucks will help anyone who gets stuck.
Chief Joseph Weasel Child said Tuesday that 30 of the First Nation’s 1,200 homes have been affected, meaning leaking basements and flooded septic fields. The Siksika Nation is home to around 7,600 people.
In the event of evacuations, Breaker said the community’s sportsplex will be used as a reception centre.
The Siksika Nation was hit hard by severe flooding in southern Alberta in 2013. Since then, its public works department has spent 80 per cent of its time rebuilding homes and, as a result, the roads have not been getting the proper upkeep, Weasel Child said.
“We’re in dire circumstances right now due to the infrastructure, lack of funding and a number of things that have compounded the situation over a number of years,” he said.
A number of rural areas in southern Alberta have been deluged in recent days.