In early May, Hay River residents were forced to flee their homes as severe ice and floodwaters caused extensive damage to the community. While Hay River experienced flooding in the past, this was the worst flood many long-time residents reportedly witnessed. Arctic Canadian workers based out of Hay River became worried for their families and homes, as many were away working their regular shift on-site at the Ekati Mine.
While evacuation measures were being announced in the news, Arctic Canadian leadership came together with hours to spare and organized a charter flight back to Hay River before the flood worsened. “It became vital to get workers back to their families to prepare for a potential worst-case scenario,” said Sheila Chernys, Head of Health, Safety, Security and Environment at Arctic Canadian. “We understood the importance of giving employees as much time as possible, as we were already racing against the clock.”
Sheila Warren, a Hay River resident and worker at the Ekati Mine, made it home just in time to rescue her daughter’s keepsakes and an elder from the impending ice and water that shortly after raged through town.
“As the updates were coming in and the situation was worsening, our department Superintendent, Todd Harkies, kept a watchful eye on us ‘Hay Riverites’ and how we were managing throughout this stressful time,” said Warren. “Once the Leadership Team realized that our community was up against an unusual and potentially disastrous river break, they immediately chartered a plane to get us home.”
As water levels receded, Hay River residents were left to deal with the aftermath of the flood. Many of the town’s buildings sat among large chunks of ice and debris, while mud caked inside and outside office buildings and residents’ homes. Arctic Canadian donated $10,000 to assist in the clean-up efforts and will continue to work with our workers and the community towards recovery.