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3rd northern Alberta community under local state of emergency due to flooding

Click to play video: 'Flooding evacuations in northern Alberta highlight need for emergency shelter'
Flooding evacuations in northern Alberta highlight need for emergency shelter
With roughly 150 northern Alberta flooding evacuees sleeping in a hockey arena, the mayor of High Level said a new evacuation centre is needed — but the minister of municipal affairs said the current facilities are 'adequate.' Dan Grummett reports – May 10, 2022

Flooding has led a third northern Alberta community to issue a local state of emergency.

The Paddle Prairie Métis Nation Settlement joins Chateh and Little Red River Cree in issuing local states of emergency due to localized flooding.

As of Tuesday morning, the Alberta government said about 20 to 30 homes on the Paddle Prairie Métis Nation Settlement had been evacuated.

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

Precipitation and snowmelt have led to flooding in the far northwestern Alberta communities.

A flood warning was issued for the Sousa Creek last Friday, with waters expecting to rise over the next four to five days.

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Flood waters surrounding a home in Chateh, on the Dene Tha’ First Nation, in northwestern Alberta on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Supplied

On Saturday, the Chief and council of Dene Tha’ First Nation at Chateh issued a state of local emergency due to localized flooding.

An evacuation order was issued for all residents of Chateh on Sunday.

Regina Lefou, 63, fled the community two days ago with barely any warning.

“I didn’t even have time to pack, I just grabbed what I need. And then… and then we got evacuated,” she said through tears while speaking over the phone from High Level, where she managed to get a hotel room. High Level is about 100 kilometres east of Chateh.

Regina Lefou, 63, at the SUper 8 hotel in High Level after evacuating Chateh, on the Dene Tha’ First Nation, because of flooding in northwestern Alberta on Sunday, May 8, 2022. Courtesy: Regina Lefou

She said the water was rising fast and there was no time to pack or move valuables to high spots in the house, in case it flooded.

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“The water came up very high — not even 10 minutes I was at my daughter’s (house) and when I was going back to leave the reserve, some houses were in water already,” she said.

Lefou was born and raised on the northern Alberta reserve but lived much of her adult life in Red Deer. She returned to the community two years ago, moving back into her family home where her son now lives.

Click to play video: 'Flooding prompts evacuation order on northern Alberta First Nation'
Flooding prompts evacuation order on northern Alberta First Nation

Lefou said her son is still in the community working security and on Tuesday said the water was still rising. In some areas, it was up to the bumpers of trucks and SUVs.

“I told him to pick up some of my stuff for me — I didn’t grab anything. And he said he can’t go that way with his truck, the water is too high.”

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Regina Lefou’s dog, which had to stay behind in the flooded community of Chateh on the Dene Tha’ First Nation. Courtesy: Regina Lefou

While she was able to take one of her dogs with her, Lefou said her outdoor dog — a young black lab — had to stay behind.

“I hope he’s okay, ’cause (of) the water all around there,” she said, adding she was distressed to hear the graveyard where all her family members are buried has also flooded.

“It’s very hard. That’s why I’ve been crying for days now. My mom and dad are in water,” she said while sobbing. She said the reserve experienced some flooding in 1977, but nothing like now.

Flood waters surrounding a home in Chateh, on the Dene Tha’ First Nation, in northwestern Alberta on Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Supplied

Most of the evacuees have been sent to hotels in High Level, but because there aren’t enough rooms for everyone, some are staying at the local arena.

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Some of the evacuees may also be sent south to Peace River or other regional communities, the province said.

Lefou said right now, their plan is to stay at the hotel until they can go home or be told otherwise what to do.

As of Tuesday morning, the province said 676 evacuees had registered in High Level.

Click to play video: 'Flooding forces evacuations in Chateh, Alta.'
Flooding forces evacuations in Chateh, Alta.

The state of local emergency was issued for Little Red River Cree by the John D’Or Prairie Band Council on Sunday. The province said some residents may be required to leave their homes if access because unsafe or restricted.

The Provincial Operations Centre was elevated Monday to Level 2, according to the province.

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