Floods force Ross River and Rock Creek evacuations

Ice jams caused sudden floods that hit Ross River and Rock Creek this week, forcing some residents from their homes. The Alaska and Robert Campbell highways have also been hit by high water this week.

Ice jams caused sudden floods that hit Ross River and Rock Creek this week, forcing some residents from their homes.

The Alaska and Robert Campbell highways have also been hit by high water this week.

Irene Morin first became aware of the problem in Ross River when a neighbour sent her kids over because the neighbour’s house had begun to flood.

“Her house was flooding so fast that she wanted to have her little ones safe while she was putting up her pictures and making some things safe,” said Morin in an interview yesterday.

“I turned around and I saw the water overflowing from across the road, from that property, overflowing as if from the bathtub. Just a big flow on to the road, the ditch, and over the road. It was just like, in 15, 20 minutes, my yard was flooded. I’ve never seen it like that. Unbelievable.”

That all happened around 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, said Morin, and by 4 the RCMP had arrived to help residents get out.

The road out was completely flooded.

“We followed the RCMP on the road – we didn’t see the road, it was all a big lake,” said Morin. “I just hoped that we would stay on the road, not in the ditch, because there the water was even thicker.”

At least five homes were flooded, and 10 people evacuated, including the neighbours and their five kids, she said.

Judging by a waterline left by floating leaves caught in willow branches, her yard was at least two feet underwater at the peak of the flood, said Morin.

But only the basement was flooded.

The neighbours, whose house is much lower, had it much worse, she said.

“They had maybe four inches before the water would have come in the window, into the kids’ bedrooms. The whole house was flooded. And right now they’re peeling the carpets, they have people helping them to move furniture out of the house. The floor is completely, completely wet. It’s going to have to be all redone probably.”

The water began to recede around 6:30 p.m., and Morin and her husband returned to their home around 9:15 p.m.

“Everything is good. We thank God that it happened during the day, not at night. That’s the big thing.”

The flood was “little stuff” compared to what people in other parts of the world have faced, she said.

The community is relieved, but not completely out of the water, said Morin.

“Right now by the river there are huge blocks of ice, and people are saying that it’s going to happen again.”

Crews are in the community and ready to respond in the event of another flood, said George Maratos, spokesperson with Wildland Fire Management.

Floods hit the Rock Creek community near Dawson City Tuesday.

“The fortunate thing is that this community is quite educated when it comes to flood preparedness and potential flood situations. It has happened in the past,” said Maratos.

Jeremy Kull hosted a barbecue for neighbours Wednesday to celebrate the passing of the flood.

“I’ve been here for three-and-a-half years and this is my first flood. It was fun,” he said.

“Having the Klondike in my kitchen is not my idea of fun,” retorted Elena Kennedy.

The Alaska Highway between Haines Junction and Whitehorse closed midday Wednesday when spring run-off came over the road near kilometre 1,500, said Aisha Montgomery, spokesperson with Highways and Public Works.

A detour route opened Wednesday evening, allowing travellers to get through.

Motorists can still expect up to a 20-minute delay, and repairs could take up to a week, said Montgomery.

The Robert Campbell Highway remains closed at kilometre 290, south of Ross River, due to a washout. Access to the Nahanni Range Road from Watson Lake is still possible.

It’s too early to say when that road might reopen, said Montgomery.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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