Lower Post community in crisis

Lower Post, B.C., was devastated by flooding last weekend, and it will be days before they can assess the damage and begin to pick up the pieces.

Lower Post, B.C., was devastated by flooding last weekend, and it will be days before they can assess the damage and begin to pick up the pieces.

Nineteen homes were flooded and 37 individuals were evacuated from the community of just over 300, according to a press release issued by the Assembly of First Nations yesterday.

The Liard River peaked at two metres above flooding level in the Upper Liard area on June 10, twice as high as the previous record-setting flood in 1972.

The Daylu Dena Council responded immediately by implementing their emergency management plan in collaboration with B.C., Yukon, and federal governments.

The council declared a state of emergency on June 10.

“Our people have been devastated, and our community has limited capacity to deal with such an event of this scale,” said Deputy Chief Peter Stone.

Officials agreed that the council did an excellent job implementing their emergency plan and co-ordinating with the various governments involved.

“The First Nation was very well organized and did a tremendous job managing through the response,” wrote Shari Borgford with Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada in an email.

Aboriginal Affairs sent emergency management co-ordinator Dave Beaudoin to Lower Post Sunday to assess need and coordinate service delivery.

A spokesperson from B.C.‘s Provincial Emergency Program said they have not yet been called on for assistance in this circumstance.

The Yukon government was responsible for providing emergency services for those individuals evacuated to Watson Lake.

Chris Balzer with Emergency Social Services said that demand for services was low, as most of the evacuees were provided for within the community.

He said a total of 12 individuals from Lower Post registered at the now-dismantled reception centre at Watson Lake.

Emergency services continue to be available at Watson Lake for those in need, although Balzer said demand for those services has receded almost completely.

The Assembly of First Nations has called upon the Canadian government to commit to working with the Daylu Dena Council on assessing damage, providing immediate relief and working on long-term solutions.

“This situation needs full co-ordination, communication and increased support. It also means proper investments in infrastructure and long-term, sustainable plans that address the root causes as well as the impact of flooding, including addressing health concerns and deteriorating infrastructure,” said AFN National Chief Shawn A-in-chut Atleo.

The community estimates damage of $3.75 million to housing, $5 million to personal property and $5 million to roads, according to the AFN press release.

Borgford with Aboriginal Affairs said that the emergency management co-ordinator will return to the community within the next few days to assess damage and plan the reconstruction, once the floods have receded.

The water level is expected to drop to flood stage tomorrow, according to a government report. It is not expected to rise again, although rainfall may slow its recession.

Water quality testing is currently underway to ensure a safe drinking supply.

“The health and safety of the Daylu Dene citizens is the priority for now,” said AFN National Chief Atleo.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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