The Liard River breached its banks late last night, threatening seven homes in Upper Liard and five in Lower Post, BC.
In Upper Liard, the river flooded a campground, a farm field and a road that provides access to a cluster of homes.
Seven families were evacuated out of fear that they would be cut off from help.
“Well (the road’s) still passable, but it’s being eroded. There’s probably a foot of water over it now,” said Gordon Dumas, of Yukon Community Services, who has been assisting Upper Liard’s emergency response since noon Thursday.
“This water came up literally in 24 hours, from running a bit high to flooding those structures,” he said.
Several Liard First Nations residences lie along the old river road north of the bridge where the river breached three years ago.
The old breach area was sandbagged yesterday afternoon and was reinforced again this morning at four a.m.
“If it comes up a metre, as we’ve sort of heard unofficially over the next three days or so, then those river roads could be breached,” said Dumas.
He estimated the river was rising at the rate of 2.54 centimetres an hour as of nine a.m. Friday morning.
A sandbagging machine and 10,000 sandbags were deployed Thursday afternoon from Whitehorse, bound for the two communities that straddle Watson Lake.
Yukon Emergency Measures Office is handling the situation in Upper Liard in co-ordination with BC’s Provincial Emergency Program and Indian and Northern Affairs in Lower Post.
Dumas heard that overnight the river reached within 15.2 centimetres from the top of the sandbagging underway in Lower Post.
“They’re definitely in for a bit of a bigger fight down there,” he said.
Residents and emergency crews in Lower Post have been digging a giant ditch to help save the threatened areas.
“Currently we’re still halfway through the construction of a one-metre dyke along the roadside,” said Jeff Munroe, executive director and flood director for the Daylu Dena Council.
The dyke is expected to hold the water back but, if it doesn’t, it will at least slow the logs that have been shooting down the river “like missiles,” he said.
Warm temperatures over the weekend are expected to increase the rate of snowmelt in the Cassiars and Frances Lake drainage, which form part of the Liard’s watershed.
The Liard River isn’t expected to crest until Monday or Tuesday.