River breakup leads to minor flooding on Vale Island

A small portion of Hay River’s Old Town was under water Monday following the breakup of the Town’s namesake river over the weekend.
Town councillor Kevin Wallington said sections of 100 Street, 101 Street and 102 Street began flooding around 8 p.m. on Sunday. While water levels have since dropped, officials remain cautious as an ice jam extends from south of Chamber Park to the mouth of the river.

“We’re looking at about 10 kilometers of packed ice and snow and slush between us and the mouth of the river,” he said Monday afternoon. “We’ll have to wait and see what happens there to determine whether or not we’re out of the woods. I don’t think at this time we can say that for sure.”
Hay River Mayor Kelly Schofield declared a state of local emergency at 6 p.m. Sunday as floodwaters began to make their way onto the island. A roadblock was also set up on the Mackenzie Highway near the Hay River Airport at the same time. Wallington said the roadblock was only to keep curious residents away from the flooded areas.
“It was nice that we didn’t have to restrict anyone’s access,” he said of Vale Island residents. “That’s what we’ve been really working at this year is to make sure people feel like they can come and go.”
The highway was reopened around midnight as the water receded.
Wallington said officials are confident that the remaining ice may melt out with this week’s warmer temperatures, though they are still taking precautions.
“It’s kind of like a shutout – no one wants to say it until it’s over,” he said. “I think that the biggest thing is making sure everyone is safe and aware and remains prepared. We don’t want to let our guard done.”