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Flooding prompts evacuation alert in northern Alberta hamlet

An aerial photo of the flooding in the Marten Beach area on July 25, 2019. COURTESY: Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service

Heavy rainfall that has resulted in flooding in the northern Alberta hamlet of Marten Beach prompted area officials to order residents to evacuate on Thursday afternoon.

“The level of the Marten River is rising due to heavy rainfall and is causing flooding within the hamlet,” the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River No. 124 said in an emergency alert issued shortly after 2:30 p.m. “Highway 88 is washed out north of the hamlet and closed.

“All residents are to evacuate and report to the reception centre set up at the municipal district office [in Slave Lake].”

Officials said anybody who is unable to leave their home without help should call 911. They also said transportation is available at the entrance to the hamlet for those who need it.

According to a post on the M.D. of of Lesser Slave River No. 124’s Facebook page, staff began sandbagging in “known low areas of Marten Beach” earlier in the afternoon.

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“We’ve had kind of an unprecedented amount of rainfall in a very short time and we have Marten River… the water has raised at an exponential rate — it’s up five or six feet, and it’s beyond the bank,” said Murray Kerik, the reeve for the M.D. of Lesser Slave River.

“It has more or less flooded the whole community.”

View photos of the Marten Beach flooding in the gallery below.

An aerial photo of the flooding in the Marten Beach area on July 25, 2019. COURTESY: Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service
An aerial photo of the flooding in the Marten Beach area on July 25, 2019. COURTESY: Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service
An aerial photo of the flooding in the Marten Beach area on July 25, 2019. COURTESY: Lesser Slave Regional Fire Service
Heavy rainfall that has resulted in flooding in the northern Alberta hamlet of Marten Beach prompted area officials to order residents to evacuate on Thursday afternoon. CREDIT: Facebook/Municipal District of Lesser Slave River No. 124
Photo of a washed out road near Slave Lake, Alta., on Friday. CREDIT: Facebook/Municipal District of Lesser Slave River #124
Photo of a roadblock on Highway 88 near Slave Lake, Alta., on Friday. Wes Rosa/Global News

Kerik said most of the Marten Beach had been evacuated by Thursday evening but “there’s a few still in there on high areas.” He said they are believed to be safe but emergency crews are using helicopters to get to their area to check on things because of difficulty access areas by road amid the flooding.

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“To exacerbate the problem, the culvert on the highway north of the community blew out earlier, so the highway is closed and now we have… at kilometre 20 — which would be the Slave Lake side of the community — we have two culverts blown out there so they’re actually isolated up there, the few that are left,” Kerik said.

Alberta Transportation issued a news release about the situation on Thursday night and echoed Kerik’s comments on the problems related to road access to some areas.

“There is no local road detour available for traffic heading north or south on Highway 88,” the provincial government said. “Traffic should not proceed north of the town of Slave Lake.

“Southbound traffic on Highway 88 will need to detour via Highway 750 near Utikuma Lake,” the province added. “Travellers to or from the Wabasca area are advised to use Highway 813.

“The closure of Highway 88 may be in effect for an extended period due to extensive rain and flooding in the area.”

Kerik said it was too early to say when people would be allowed to return to their homes and summer homes as it was still raining Thursday night and once the water recedes, roads will need repairs and the structural safety of buildings will need to be assessed.

“Trackhoes are being dispatched to clear stream debris at Marten River Bridge and Mooney Creek,” M.D.officials said on Facebook. “Eating Creek actions are being evaluated. Other streams are being monitored.”

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READ MORE: Local state of emergency issued as water levels rise in Lesser Slave River

Watch below: A local state of emergency remains in effect in the Slave Lake area after torrential rain led to flooding an evacuations. On June 13, 2018, Fletcher Kent filed this report on how extensive the damage is.

Click to play video 'Local state of emergency remains in effect in M.D. of Lesser Slave River No. 124' Local state of emergency remains in effect in M.D. of Lesser Slave River No. 124
Local state of emergency remains in effect in M.D. of Lesser Slave River No. 124 – Jun 13, 2018

In June 2018, a local state of emergency was declared for the M.D. of Lesser Slave River No. 124 due to rising flood waters. At that time, heavy rainfall in the area caused flooding in low-lying areas, including Eating Creek and Marten Beach, where residents were told to evacuate.

“This one is actually probably worse than the last one,” Kerik said. “The water is higher for one thing — it came up so fast.

“We’ve applied for flood mitigation work [and] studies to find out why it’s coming up so fast because it never used to do this — you had high water but not like this, this just comes up [and] ‘bang!'” he said. “It’s getting to be… every time it rains, we’re scared we’re going to get evacuated out and it would sure be nice to find out why.”
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Kerik added it’s already been a difficult spring and summer because of wildfire evacuations in the region last month.

READ MORE: Thousands of Alberta residents forced out by wildfire allowed to return home

The M.D. of Lesser Slave River No. 124 is about 200 kilometres north of Edmonton.

READ MORE: Parts of northern Alberta under rainfall warning

Watch below: Global News meteorologist Jesse Beyer’s weather forecast for Edmonton and surrounding areas from about 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 25, 2019.

Click to play video 'Edmonton Weather Forecast: July 25' Edmonton Weather Forecast: July 25
Edmonton Weather Forecast: July 25 – Jul 25, 2019

Parts of northern Alberta were issued a rainfall warning by Environment Canada on Wednesday. The weather agency said the rain was expected to taper off Thursday night but that by the time the heavy rain stops falling, some areas should prepare for the possibility of up to 100 millimetres of precipitation falling during that time frame.

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