Local state of emergency issued as water levels rise in Lesser Slave River
A state of local emergency has been issued for the M.D. of Lesser Slave River No. 124 due to rising flood waters.
The alert was issued just before 1:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“The public is advised that for the duration of the emergency, the local authority may take any action it deems necessary to deal with the situation,” read the declaration.
Heavy rainfall in the area has caused flooding in low-lying areas, including Eating Creek and Marten Beach, where residents have been told to evacuate.
In Eating Creek residents were given a half an hour to leave their properties.
“Residents are advised to seek accommodations with friends outside the flood area or at local hotels,” said an emergency alert. “Road access is deteriorating.”
On Wednesday evening, officials issued an information alert to inform evacuated residents of the Eating Creek area that they would be allowed to return home at 7 p.m. However, they warned the roads were damaged and asked residents to exercise “extreme caution” when returning.
For further advice and instruction on re-entry, residents can click here.
In the Marten Beach area, heavy rainfall and log jams caused localized flooding. Residents there were told to be cautious and take appropriate precautions.
High water levels also put the Town of Slave Lake on high alert, especially on the northeast side of the community. Crews were forced to shut down the Mooney Creek bridge for several hours but it was reopened shortly before 9 a.m. Tuesday.
“Water is receding and crews are keeping an eye on the Sawridge Creek. Mooney Creek bridge has now reopened with one lane. Please expect at least a 30-minute delay,” said the town’s Twitter account.
At around 10:45 a.m. Tuesday, the town said Highway 88 at the 16-kilometre marker was closed completely due to a culvert washout and flooding.
“This highway will be closed for an extended period of time due to the need for water to go down before crews can come in and fix the road,” the tweet said.
Late Tuesday afternoon, officials said Highway 2 at the Mooney Creek bridge is down to one lane.
There were also a number of power outages within town limits and officials say ATCO is working to bring the power back on.
The Northern Northern Lights Aquatic Centre, MRC, Parentlink and Library were closed earlier Tuesday, but all town facilities were open again by 2 p.m.
Environment Canada issued rain warnings for the area with between 60 and 110 mm of rain expected for the area.
“Evacuations are still in effect,” officials said in a Facebook post on Wednesday afternoon. “The M.D. [is] working on a plan of re-entry and determining priorities and actions for recovery. In preparation of re-entry, residents can call the local Alberta Health Services branch at 780-849-5101.”
They added if anybody is displaced by the flood threat, they should check in at a reception centre set up at the M.D.’s administration office or by calling 780-849-4888.
“Our road system I think took the biggest beating,” Murray Kerik, the reeve for the M.D. of Lesser Slave River No. 124, said on Wednesday afternoon. “We had water running over roads all over the place, bridges chock-full, backhoes sitting on bridges lifting timber out as it floats down the creeks and it would have piled up and taken our bridges out. So yeah, it’s been an expensive couple of days.
“We have water in places we’ve never seen water before.”
Kerik said Marten Beach is likely the hardest-hit area.
“There’s going to be lots of damage in that hamlet,” he said.
“The cleanup is going to be extreme and from what we understand, it’s 30 to 50 per cent of the hamlet that was underwater.”
View photos of flooding in the Marten Beach area in the gallery below.
Kerik said the M.D. Is currently trying to assess the severity of the damage sustained by infrastructure, which is partly why the state of emergency remains in effect.
“We’re still under a state of local emergency until such time as we know it’s safe for our residents to go home because we’re not going to… have a road collapse out from underneath them,” he said. “Water systems, septic systems all have to be operating properly before we can let people in.
“Water is receding rapidly, which is good because it was pretty intense around here for a couple of days.”
View photos of the impact of rising river water in the Slave Lake area in the gallery below:
Meanwhile, in north-central Alberta, officials expressed concern about water rising on the Driftpile River late Tuesday afternoon.
“The rise in water level may cause water to flow out of the banks of the river near the water level measurement station in the community of Driftpile,” officials with Big Lakes County said in an emergency alert. “Flooding of low-lying areas upstream and downstream of the dyking is already occurring and may increase as water makes its way downstream.”
People in the Driftpile area were being warned to avoid rivers, valleys and low-lying areas.