Planning for an evacuation centre in Hay River is well underway, according to town administration, as the town prepares for the winter breakup season.
Director of Protective Services Ross Potter says the applications to use a space as an evacuation centre in the event of flooding have been sent to Municipal and Community Affairs and the Chief Public Health Officer’s office.
The plans are being reviewed to ensure everything is COVID-19 compliant, added Potter.
Some Hay River residents were evacuated last year, including Vale Island’s residents.
“We are also hoping that family and friends would be an option for people moving off the island,” said senior administrative officer Glenn Smith.
Smith added the CPHO is working on evacuation guidelines that will be used throughout the territory, saying he had hoped to be able to review them last week, but they weren’t available.
A release sent out by the town on Friday warned residents they should make preparations to protect their property, including moving personal belongings to higher ground and speaking with their insurance company about flooding insurance.
Flood response training for protective services crew members is well underway, Potter says.
Ice thickness testing is happening between April 9 and 16, says Potter. That is to ensure consistency year-to-year of when the ice is measured.
The release included a map highlighting at-risk zones for flooding, but the town noted flooding may happen outside of these zones because of the record high water levels seen on Great Slave Lake.
Water levels on Great Slave Lake are the highest they have been since monitoring began in the 1930s.
Water flows were also at or near record high levels for much of the summer on the Tazin, Taltson, Lockhart, Kakisa, and Hay rivers.
Updates to the town’s preparations for breakup season can be found on the Town of Hay River Facebook page and on the town’s breakup season webpage.