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Northern Alberta flooding forces more than 1,000 from their homes

Click to play video: 'Flooding prompts evacuation order on northern Alberta First Nation' Flooding prompts evacuation order on northern Alberta First Nation
More than a thousand people have been forced to flee to escape extreme flooding near High Level in far northwestern Alberta. As Dan Grummett reports, it could be months before people from Chateh on the Dene Tha’ First Nation can return home. – May 9, 2022

More than 1,000 people have been affected by flooding in northwestern Alberta.

A spokesperson with Alberta Municipal Affairs said Monday there are current two states of local emergency in place due to localized flooding in communities in northwestern Alberta.

“They are for Chateh in the Dene Tha’ First Nation and the other is for Little Red River Cree with the John D’or Prairie band council,” Scott Johnston said.

Click to play video: 'Flooding forces evacuations in Chateh, Alta.' Flooding forces evacuations in Chateh, Alta.
Flooding forces evacuations in Chateh, Alta – May 9, 2022

An evacuation order was issued for residents of the Dene Tha’ First Nation at Chateh where residents are being told to go to High Level. Some people may need to be sent to Peace River or other regional communities, Johnston said.

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“Roughly 1,100 people have been affected by the flooding,” Johnston said in a statement just after 12:15 p.m. Monday.

The chief of the Dene Tha’ First Nation said the flooding is unlike anything the community has experienced in the past. James Ahnassay said the province warned them a few days ago that significant rainfall combined with spring melt could cause a nearby creek to spill its banks. On Saturday, partial evacuation orders were issued for some residential areas. By Sunday evening, everyone had to leave.

“All of those things combined together makes it a perfect storm,” Ahnassay said Monday.

Read more: ‘This isn’t fair’: Heartbroken residents in Alberta community forced out of flood-prone neighbourhood

Most evacuees were sent to hotels in High Level. However, the mayor said there weren’t enough hotel rooms for everyone, so about 150 people are staying at the town’s arena.

“We didn’t even have cots so we went to all the schools and got mats for them to sleep on,” High Level Mayor Crystal McAteer said.

Flood protection barriers known as tiger dams are being set up around homes in Chateh, the province said, and Beaver First Nation is providing additional aid.

“Tiger dams are filled with water to protect housing,” Johnston said. “A First Nations field officer is on site assisting the emergency management team.”

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Water levels appear to have peaked, but the province said with continued snow melt and saturated soil, they’re not expected to recede for days and it could be months before many evacuees return home.

Chateh, Alta., is located about 845 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

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Flooding in Chateh, Alta., force the evacuations of residents May 9, 2022. Courtesy: Lynsay McMullan
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Flooding in Chateh, Alta., force the evacuations of residents May 9, 2022. Courtesy: Lynsay McMullan
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Flooding in Chateh, Alta., force the evacuations of residents May 9, 2022. Courtesy: Lynsay McMullan
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Flooding in Chateh, Alta., force the evacuations of residents May 9, 2022. Courtesy: Lynsay McMullan
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Flooding in Chateh, Alta., force the evacuations of residents May 9, 2022. Courtesy: Lynsay McMullan

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