‘It’s not getting worse’: Floodwaters begin to recede in Slave Lake area

Floodwaters have begun to recede in the Slave Lake area after a powerful storm washed out roads, uprooted trees and triggered voluntary evacuations in the region.

Conditions deteriorated rapidly on Tuesday as the community was placed under rain and windfall warnings, but the worst of the storm appears to have passed.

“I think this morning, we’ve got a little bit of a glimmer of hope,” said Murray Kerik, the reeve of Lesser Slave River  Wednesday morning.

“The water levels seem to be coming down now so it’s not getting any worse now, at least.”

A local state of emergency was declared in the M.D. of Lesser Slave River around 2 a.m. Tuesday as heavy rains caused floodwater to rise dangerously high, knocking out power, collapsing river banks, and eroding local roads. The state of emergency remained in effect Wednesday morning.

A power outage which stretched across the entire town of Slave Lake on Tuesday, shutting the local school and keeping many people at home, has largely been resolved. 

Residents across the community are being asked to limit their water use as flooding has compromised one of the transfer stations. 

Municipal officials are surveying the damage and are expected to provide an update on the community’s emergency status by early afternoon, Kerik said.

“We have a lot of infrastructure damage on our roads,” Kerik said. “We can’t assess at this time just how much damage until the water levels go down enough that we can actually visibly see them. But we know from the movement of the dirt and the gravel that we have a lot of washouts.”

Highway 2 west out of Slave Lake, has partially reopened after the Mooney Creek bridge was closed by flooding.

Highway 88, which leads to Marten Beach, a hamlet on the northeast shore of Lesser Slave Lake, remains washed out and closed.

We’ve got water in places we’ve never seen before.– Murray  Kerik, Reeve of M.D. of Lesser Slave River

In Eating Creek and Marten Beach, the communities hardest hit by flooding, voluntary evacuations remain in place.

Overland flooding persists and conditions are treacherous, said Kerik.

Residents are being advised to keep clear of affected areas as the flash flooding remains high and roads in the area are unstable.

Road access to the entrance of Nine Mile Point is covered by water east to the pond, and emergency officials are concerned that higher water levels could leave residents stranded. 

About 150 people live in the affected areas. 

“I believe we have a lot of homes that are going to have water in their basements,” Kerik said.

“It’s specific areas that are affected badly and I mean, it’s badly. We’ve got water in places we’ve never seen before.”

An emergency reception centre has been set up inside the MD Administration office for displaced residents.

After serious flooding in recent years, and the disastrous wildfire which enveloped Slave Lake in 2011, the community was well-equipped to deal with the emergency, said Kerik.

“We’ve had enough experience at this that we have staff and administration that are extremely good at these situations and know exactly what to do,” he said.

“That’s the one nice thing about this is we know exactly how to handle this.”

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