Residents evacuated from Rock Creek flood

Ice floes creaked against homes outside Dawson City this weekend after the Klondike River flooded, prompting the evacuation of about 28 residents.

Ice floes creaked against homes outside Dawson City this weekend after the Klondike River flooded, prompting the evacuation of about 28 residents.

As record-setting temperatures approached 23 degrees Celsius, ice jammed the river and water breached the Klondike’s banks near the Rock Creek subdivision on Friday.

By evening, half a metre of water covered the road and four properties had flooded.

The waters continued to rise through the night so that, by Saturday morning, the roads were covered by at least another 10 centimetres of water and were impassible except to heavy equipment.

Residents reported their homes had taken on as much as a metre of water. About 28 people were evacuated, as well as a dog and cat.

During the evacuation, emergency crews found a camper who had tried to flee his campsite by truck, but had driven into a washed out ditch. Water reached his windshield.

He managed to find dry land and waited four hours until he was rescued.

Three people were put up in a hotel. The rest stayed at the homes of family or friends.

By Saturday evening, the ice jams had cleared and water began to recede. But, as of Monday, the road remains pretty much impassable due to water.

Rock Creek is subject to nuisance flooding every few years. But this past weekend’s flooding may be the worst the area has seen in two decades, said Rick Janowicz, manager of the Yukon government’s water section.

Blame the unusually chilly winter and the exceptionally balmy weekend most of the Yukon just enjoyed, he said.

The winter’s frigid temperatures and heavy snowfall produced thicker-than-usual ice on the river. This ice abruptly broke up under the weekend’s clear, sunny skies, and quickly clogged the river, until building pressure eventually knocked the ice loose.

It could have been far worse.

Eagle, Alaska, is experiencing its biggest flood since 1936. Entire buildings have been washed away, or destroyed by house-sized chunks of ice, reports the Fairbanks News Miner.

No future flooding is anticipated near Dawson, said Michael Templeton, manager of Yukon’s Emergency Measures Organization.

But Upper Liard continues to brace for flooding this spring. And territorial officials are visiting Old Crow this week to prepare residents for the possibility of the Porcupine River flooding parts of town.

Contact John Thompson at

johnt@yukon-news.com.

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