A meeting on the flood potential during the spring break up on Vale Island took place Wednesday, May 20 at 7 p.m. at the Fire Training School.
The meeting was aimed to ensure that residents are aware of the risk of flooding associated with this year’s spring break up and to let them know what is being done to protect property and lives.
Coun. Kevin Wallington and Hay River Fire Chief Ross Potter were on hand to present the University of Alberta’s findings and predictions for the coming break up.
Wallington stressed the need to be prepared for the eventuality of flooding in the lower lying areas of the town.
They also tried to address concerns that citizens had about the evacuation plan.
“There are some pretty heated opinions because of things that have happened in the past,” said Wallington. “We are trying to do our best to mitigate any of those communication and property issues.”
With the exception of a vocal minority, a significant number of those who attended the meeting were willing to help with communications and evacuations.
Many residents volunteered on the spot to ensure a safe and efficient evacuation.
One of the factors that make a flood scenario harder to predict is the location of the pressure ridge in Great Slave Lake.
The closer it is to shore the less likely water will be able to smoothly flow into the lake without causing flooding.
A buildup of ice along this ridge would create a greater potential for flooding.
Much of the University of Alberta’s data suggests that the Hay River’s water levels still depend on what happens upriver to the south.
Sensors are set up at four locations along the river to monitor water levels, three of which are equipped with cameras and have been in use for some time according to Potter.
Vale Island residents are also reminded that if evacuated from the island all residents must register at the Legion so emergency personnel have an accurate estimate of those remaining on the island that need assistance.
“More than anything right now we just want to encourage people to be prepared,” said Wallington. “They can bring their equipment in and tie things down in their yards. Make sure there aren’t loose oil cans and gas cans that could be a danger to property.”
Any additional information can be obtained by going to Town Hall during business hours or going to the town’s website, www.hayriver.com.