NWT Emergency Response Update - May 23, 2023 3:00pm

Public Safety Bulletin

Hay River — May 23, 2023

Communities remain lead on response activities. Territorial and Regional Emergency Management Organizations are fully activated and providing resources for planning, coordination, and support to community emergency management operations.

Current status - Wildfire response

Wildfire Status

Wildfires Recovery Pathfinder

A pathfinder is in place to support those affected by the 2023 Kátł’odeeche First Nation & Hay River Fire. Monday-Friday 9am - 4:30pm.

Health Services for Evacuees

Hay River family physicians are currently available (one physician in Yellowknife for in-person needs and more available virtually) and are ready to assist with health needs of Hay River and KFN evacuees, this includes regular appointments, prescription refills, etc.

  • Call 867-767-9294 or 867-767-9125 for a phone consultation. Identify yourself as an evacuee so we can direct your calls appropriately.
    • We expect high call volumes for this service, so we ask all residents to have patience when calling.

Information on Evacuated Clients/Patients

Anyone in care at the Hay River Health Centre, long-term care, and supported living clients in the evacuated communities have been evacuated successfully.

  • This includes anyone who was residing in Woodland Manor, SLS and Judith Fabian Group Home.
  • If you had loved ones in these health facilities who were relocated and you would like updates, reach out to the next-of-kin listed on your loved one’s file. Next of kin of any evacuated individuals in care are being contacted directly with updates.

Mental Health Services for Evacuees

Being evacuated from your home community is stressful; checking in with a mental health and counselling resource can help provide strategies, advice, and resources to deal with this difficult situation. Services available to evacuees include:

  • In Person Services at the Multiplex: Mental health workers are available from 9am to 9pm daily at the evacuation centre.
  • Virtual or Remote Supports: Contact the Yellowknife Community Counselling office for information on mental health services. Virtual services are available to people in Yellowknife or another community.
  • Yellowknife Community Counselling Office: Phone Counselling is available 8:30am to 5:00pm Monday to Friday. (867) 767-9110 ext. 3

The following supports are also available:

  • NWT Help Line: 1-800-661-0844
  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 Or text CONNECT to 686868
  • Wellness Together Canada: Adults: 1-866-585-0445, Youth: 1-888-668-6810
  • Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566
  • Hope For Wellness: 1-855-242-3310
  • Family Violence Crisis line: 1-866-223-7775

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Evacuee Accommodations

Evacuation Reception Centre

  •  An Evacuation Reception Centre at the Yellowknife Multiplex has been established. Services include evacuee registration, cots, food service, and onsite first aid and mental health supports. Individuals can also get information at the reception centre about accessing health and social services and things like prescriptions.
    • Individuals who have evacuated to Yellowknife – whether they are staying at the reception centre or not - must register in person if they want to be on the list for current or future evacuee services or information updates.
    • For evacuees outside of Yellowknife, accommodations and associated costs for those evacuees are not covered by the GNWT. 
    • For evacuees outside of Yellowknife looking for additional accommodation options and support for associated costs, check with your Community Government.

NWT Parks Reservations

Reservations made at multiple NWT Parks will not be available until further notice in order to accommodate wildfire evacuees.

  • Reservations made at Louise Falls, Escarpment Creek, Fort Providence and Lady Evelyn Campgrounds have been suspended.
  • The Hay River Campground continues to be closed due to wildfire.
  • All visitors who have made reservations at these parks (arriving the week of May 15th until the evacuation period is ended) will be automatically refunded in the coming weeks. We thank you for your understanding. 

Fred Henne Park (Yellowknife)

  • Campsites are desperately needed in Yellowknife to accommodate wildfire evacuees.
  • Fred Henne Park contractors are working to accommodate everyone. If an evacuee is currently in your Fred Henne site, you may be contacted to change or cancel your reservation. We appreciate your understanding and will only use this approach if no other options are available.
  • Unfortunately, this situation has resulted in incidents of evacuees being scammed online. If you would like to donate your campsite for use by an evacuee, please do not advertise independently
  • Contact Fred Henne Gatehouse at 867-920-2472 between 9am-4pm. Staff will process a full refund to you and ensure the site goes to evacuees on their waitlist.

Actions today

Emergency Management Organization (EMO) Activation:

  • The Town of Hay River will be hosting a Town Hall Meeting today at 4pm.  More information is available on the Town of Hay River Facebook page. The link is: https://www.youtube.com/@townofhayriver965/stream
  • The Territorial, South Slave, North Slave, and Beaufort Delta Emergency Management Organizations (EMO) have been activated.
  • The South Slave REMO and Territorial EMO is in regular communication with and providing ongoing support to the communities of Hay River and the Kátł’odeeche First Nation for wildfires.
  • The Beaufort Delta REMO is in regular communication with the local EMO of Aklavik.

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Priorities for operations tomorrow

  • Continued accommodating of evacuees at the Evacuation Centre in Yellowknife.
  • Continued monitoring of wildfire to assure safety of evacuees.
  • Continued assistance to the Town of Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation and partner agencies in response.
  • Continued monitoring of water levels in Aklavik.

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Staying safe in an emergency

The emergency response underway in K'atl'odeeche and Hay River is a rapidly changing situation.

Key messages for today are:

  • Do not return to the evacuated area of Kátł’odeeche First Nation and Hay River. Do not attempt to travel to these areas. Avoid the area, it is not safe to return, and will not be safe to return for a while.
  • Evacuate Now. If you are in Hay River, leave now. Responders may not be able to rescue everyone who gets stuck.
  • Highway 2 is closed north of the Highways 2 and 5 junction (kms 32 to 49). Travel to and from Fort Resolution and Fort Smith is unaffected by this closure. Smoky conditions on Highway 5 are expected to increase today. Be prepared for delays or road closures.
  • Follow trusted verified information. Follow all instructions from your local community government.

For the latest, most accurate emergency information, continue checking for updates with your local community government and visit www.gov.nt.ca/public-safety.

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Many people ask how they can help support evacuees. Here are some ways you can provide donations and support:

  • Monetary donations are being accepted by United Way NWT.
  • Gift cards will be accepted at the Yellowknife reception centre, but donations to United Way are preferred as they are easier to coordinate.
  • Physical goods can be dropped at the Yellowknife Salvation Army Thrift Shop and labeled: Fire Relief.
  • Food donations are not being accepted at the evacuation reception centre in Yellowknife.

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Current status – Flood Watch

Fort McPherson – Flood Watch

  • The community has lifted the State of Local Emergency.
  • Highway 8 has re-opened.
  • Flood watch at Fort McPherson has now ended for the season.

Aklavik - Rising water levels

  • Water levels are being monitored.
  • As a precautionary measure, an evacuation centre has been set up in Inuvik in case it is needed.

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More information

NWT Fire Wildfire Update (website)