Snowmelt causes flooding, evacuations at Alta. First Nation
Published Tuesday, April 17, 2018 8:33AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, April 18, 2018 8:03AM EDT
A First Nation community outside of Calgary remains under a state of emergency following a spring dumping of snow that rapidly melted, causing flooding and evacuations.
The Siksika Nation, located approximately 95 kilometres east of Calgary, declared a local state of emergency on Monday due to rising water that caused homes to flood and roads to wash out.
By Tuesday evening, 30 families were evacuated to hotels in the city. Officials from the First Nation said they’re working to prevent rising water from entering homes and flooding more roads.
“Siksika Nation Chief and Council has identified that there is a risk to people, property and infrastructure and has mandated specific departments and services to plan and execute an emergency response plan,” the Nation said in a release on Monday.
There is more than 500 kilometres of road on the reserve, 300 kilometres of which became impassable due to the snow melt. Officials said emergency vehicles and school buses have been unable to reach communities on the First Nation because of the conditions of the roads.
The overland flooding began when temperatures rose and heavy snow melted atop the frozen ground.
“There’s still at least a foot and a half of snow so you are going to see more flooding for sure,” Stewart Breaker, the agriculture manager for the Siksika Nation, told CTV Calgary.
Following the devastation of the 2013 floods, when hundreds of residents lost their homes, 80 per cent of public works money on the reserve went towards building new homes with little left over for road maintenance. The First Nation hopes the state of emergency declaration will give them access to provincial funding to fix the roads.
“We are in a crisis situation right now so we are going to call in our resources. We have to do financing. Whatever it takes. Our nation members come first,” Chief Joseph Weasel Child said on Tuesday.
Siksika First Nation’s state of emergency will remain in effect for another five days.
With a report from CTV Calgary’s Bill Macfarlane and Kevin Green