Hay River’s flooding shelter has been approved by the Chief Public Health Officer.
Town officials say the community centre shelter will be able to hold 130 residents. The town is also setting up a trailer park where residents can park their RV’s or caravans. That space will be able to hold up to 30 RV’s, according to Glenn Smith, senior administrative officer for the Town of Hay River.
Smith said details about the town’s evacuation plans would be rolled out today and more information would be distributed throughout the week.
He added the priority is getting residents off Vale Island evacuated if flooding occurs.
“There is a bit of mitigation work that is being completed,” he said. “If conditions dictate, we want to be able to get people out of harm’s way and once those conditions subside, people can be brought back to their homes and any type of remediation or recovery activities needed, if it was needed — those things all come second.”
Using the town’s community centre had to be approved by the Chief Public Health Officer because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Smith said residents should also plan to stay with friends and family outside of flooding zones if they can, with a maximum of 10 people in each house.
“Emergency preparedness is everyone’s responsibility,” Town of Hay River documents read. “Residents are expected to know the risks for their area, have emergency plans in place to deal with an emergency and mitigate the risk to themselves and their property, including having insurance where possible.”
The territorial government is still developing guidelines for how evacuations and shelters should be run and be Covid safe.
Details about where people who are self-isolating will be evacuated to in the event of flooding will be finalized this week, said Smith. He said he expects they will be accommodated through the community centre.
In March, Hay River South MLA Rocky Simpson called on the territorial government to provide more support so residents could be evacuated to nearby locations, rather than having to travel to Yellowknife, as happened with a number of residents during last year’s floods.
“We have Fort Smith with accommodations close by. I would like to see us utilize those services, as well. I like to keep things in the South Slave, if we can,” he said in the Legislative Assembly.
Minister for Municipal and Community Affairs Paulie Chinna — the department who are developing the community guidelines for flooding preparations — said her department will be working closely with a number of communities as the NWT moves towards breakup season.
Chinna added there will be high-water levels at several points throughout the territory.
Information about the town’s plans will be released on the Town of Hay River’s social media feeds as well as online.