Two Yukon communities are currently facing evacuation alerts: Carmacks and Teslin.
This means people in affected areas need to be ready to leave their homes and communities on short notice. It is considered a voluntary evacuation for anyone who leaves before or during this alert.
An alert for Ross River has been rescinded, according to a June 20 update attributed to incident commander Adam Leary. A flood warning for the Pelly River at Ross River has been downgraded to a high streamflow advisory, as of June 20.
In a notice on June 19, Mayor Lee Bodie of the Village of Carmacks issued an evacuation alert for areas serviced by the wastewater treatment plant. The affected areas include Freegold Road, Tantalus Crescent, Prospector Road, Klaza Road, Nansen Road, Victoria Crescent, McDade Road, Rawlinson Road and a portion of River Drive.
A map attached to the notice shows the affected areas primarily lie south of the Yukon River bend.
According to the notice for Carmacks, residents and visitors in the affected areas have been placed on alert and must be ready to evacuate within two hours of being notified.
In a June 20 update, the Yukon government website states there are six Yukon Wildland Fire Management crews assisting with the response efforts in the Carmacks area.
“We are working closely with the Village of Carmacks and Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation to support their efforts to protect homes and infrastructure,” reads the update.
The update notes berms have been put up to protect River Drive and Lower Bench and more berms are being built for those areas.
The Yukon River climbed 8.8 centimetres in the last 24 hours, according to the latest update. The News observed June 18 the water had surpassed the boardwalk that lines the river in the village.
The notice is asking people to avoid visiting properties in the affected areas and to “proactively relocate” before those areas are directly impacted by the hazards.
In the notice, an evacuation order may be issued if the hazard directly threatens residents and visitors. An order means people are at risk and must leave the area immediately. It is mandatory and enforced by local authorities or RCMP.
When preparing to leave, the notices for the communities outline there are some things people should do: locate all family members and designate a safe meeting place; gather essential items such as medication, eye glasses, valuable documents and immediate care needs for dependents; move livestock and pets to a safe area; arrange for transportation; arrange a place to stay; and monitor local news sources, the territorial government website and local authorities for updates.
The notice notes emergency accommodation may be provided, if required. For example, a portion of Whitehorse’s Canada Games Centre has been converted to take in evacuees from areas affected by flooding.
Late last week flooding prompted a boil water advisory for private well users in Carmacks and Little Salmon Carmacks First Nation.
On the Yukon government website, residents of Carmacks and the First Nation are being asked to limit their use of water until further notice to help decrease demand on the sewer treatment plant, which is being overwhelmed by flooding. That includes reducing use of toilet flushing, laundry, dishwashing, showering and bathing when possible. Those who are not connected to the municipal water supply are being asked to avoid draining grey water or waste from their homes if they are affected by flooding.
Teslin is currently under a flood warning.
Specific areas of Teslin are also being advised by the Village of Teslin and Teslin Tlingit Council of an evacuation alert in place. That alert was issued based on potential impacts of flooding in areas near Teslin Lake.
The notice for Teslin indicates people should be ready to leave within an hour of an evacuation order being issued.
Yukon-wide travel advisory issued
On June 17, the Yukon’s Emergency Coordination Centre Information Officer issued a travel advisory in response to high water levels across the territory.
In the advisory, the coordination centre is activated to direct the Yukon government’s response to flooding and to support communities with their own response. Hydrologists are keeping an eye on water levels and a team is actively monitoring critical infrastructure in the territory.
The advisory notes the Yukon government’s emergency support services team and the Canadian Red Cross are combining efforts to make support available to people who need to leave their homes due to flood waters.
Yukoners impacted by flooding can call the emergency support services team at 867-332-7367 to pre-register and ask questions.
In the advisory, pre-registering allows people to get urgent assistance, helps the government track evacuees and ensures people are able to get important updates and services.
The advisory is reminding travellers not to linger in areas where flood mitigation work is happening; not to interfere with crews working; respect closures and advisories communities have in place; be as self-sufficient as possible by packing all required supplies for the duration of a trip; prepare for possible traffic delays; and do not rely on commercial accommodation in communities without pre-booking.
As for the roads, the advisory points out the Alaska Highway remains safe and open for travel.
With regards to water quality, flooding can lead to contaminants being added to lakes and rivers, as well as private wells and community water supplies. The advisory notes do not drink water until it has been tested. Anyone with concerns about water quality can contact environmental health services at firstname.lastname@example.org or 867-332-3227.
The travel advisory is reminding people to stay safe on and near waterways by being aware that changing weather conditions and snowmelt can lead to dynamic conditions and rapid increases in flow and water levels; stay away from river edges and shorelines because riverbanks may become undercut and collapse; do not walk or drive through flood waters because the water may be deeper and faster than it appears; watch for debris in waterways and landslides around flooded areas; do not leave children unattended near lakes and rivers; and do extensive research to understand the local conditions and be prepared before choosing to travel by river.
Northern B.C. also experiencing high waters
Northern British Columbia has also been mitigating high water issues.
In a notice on June 19, the B.C. Ministry of Forests River Forecast Centre issued a downgraded flood watch for the Liard River basin including tributaries around Fort Nelson and Highway 97 towards Watson Lake. Although the river has dropped from peak levels on June 10 to 13, the notice suggests there is potential for the river to rise again in the short and longer term forecasts, depending on the amount of precipitation that falls in the region.
Swift River and other streams and rivers in the most northwest section of the province are under a high streamflow advisory.
Muncho Lake is located along the Alaska Highway.
A video taken by David Dominic on June 11 and posted to Facebook the following day shows the turquoise waters creeping up towards the height of the highway and the Northern Rockies Lodge.
In a June 20 email to the News, Dominic said the road infrastructure had not been impacted by the high waters and the highway along the perimeter of the lake had not been closed or affected by washouts due to water levels.
Lake levels have been receding by approximately three feet or more since the video was captured, Dominic said, adding that it continues to decrease, as of June 20.
Contact Dana Hatherly at email@example.com