Paulie Chinna: Northwest Territories Community Flood Response

Ministers' Statements and Speeches

Yellowknife — May 28, 2021

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Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak today about the collaborative work of the GNWT’s Emergency Management Organization, or EMO, and community governments to help ensure the safety and security of residents in the emergency response to the recent flood situations experienced by several of our communities.

These past few weeks have been an incredibly trying time for residents who have been directly impacted by flooding in their communities. There is never a good time for emergencies involving natural disasters but responding to one during a pandemic has added to a trying and difficult time. As I have said many times in the past, the North is a place where residents come together during times of need with offers of help and assistance, and I am pleased to say this was once again the case during this summer’s flood season.

Mr. Speaker, the Emergency Management Organization was activated early in the spring and has been, and continues to, provide assistance to communities as our flood season continues. The EMO is an active partner in all emergency responses. In particular, I want to acknowledge the quick and effective response with the communities of Hay River, Kátł’odeeche First Nation, Jean Marie River and Fort Simpson over the past few weeks. The EMO continues to monitor and work collaboratively with communities to address emergency needs on an ongoing, real time basis.

The membership of the EMO has been working to ensure that activities related to business continuity and resumption of services continue, including making accommodations available where possible for those impacted. As communities have seen the water level drop and it has become safe to do so, staff have traveled to affected communities to meet with residents to discuss their needs, start to assess damage and mitigation concerns, and assess how the GNWT can provide support.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the communities of Fort Providence and Fort Smith who have kindly hosted evacuees, as well the Town of Hay River who, after undergoing an evacuation of their own, opened up their community to evacuees from other areas of the territory. I would also like to show appreciation for all of the donations that have been organized for the affected communities. The deep connection that we have with one another is evident with these generous actions by Northerners.   

Flood response is community driven and supported by the EMO, because much of the important work happens on the ground, many actions taken within the communities may be overlooked. As such, I would also like to recognize the significant contributions of the front-line workers and the hundreds of volunteers that offered their time and effort to assist with flood responses.

To our affected communities and residents, we know this is a challenging time, and we are working with community governments to ensure that you remain safe and have the supports you need. The GNWT will continue to work with communities on the ongoing recovery efforts, and again on behalf of Cabinet, thank you to everyone involved in the flood efforts so far.  

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.