The hamlet of Marten Beach was evacuated and a local state of emergency declared after heavy rainfall caused flooding and washed out highways in northern Alberta.
Supplied / Municipal District of Lesser Slave River
The hamlet of Marten Beach remains under an evacuation order after heavy rain caused major flooding Thursday.Road access to the northern community is cut off after Highway 88, north of the town of Slave Lake, was washed out near Range Road 55 and Township Road 740. The water woes come just two months after wildfires north of the community forced an evacuation. “We’re getting good at this. Between fires and floods we’re just waiting for the locusts,” Murray Kerik, reeve of the Municipal District of Lesser Slave River, said Friday.Two culverts “blew from underneath and cut the asphalt on the highway,” said Kerik.Last year only one culvert was damaged by recurring flooding that appears to be getting worse every year, he said.There are only about 10 permanent residents in the cottage community, Kerik said. Some, whose homes are safe on high ground, have opted to stay in the hamlet on the northeast shore of Lesser Slave Lake. The community is about 290 kilometres northwest of Edmonton. Meanwhile, Kerik estimates that between 200 to 250 campers are stranded in Lesser Slave Lake Provincial Park after the Lily Creek Group Use Area and Marten Mountain Viewpoint Day Use Area were closed until further notice. Kerik said he believed everyone in Marten Beach is accounted for, and that no one was injured or in immediate danger.“Nobody’s in dire straights. We can get in with helicopters and boats. It’s not a disaster,” said Kerik, who added that firefighters and emergency crews are on hand.The community tried to prepare for the rising water in low areas of Marten Beach on Thursday by stacking sandbags, but it wasn’t enough.“The water came so fast that there weren’t enough sandbags in Alberta to stop that,” said Kerik.Backhoes were also dispatched to clear stream debris, including downed timber, at Marten River Bridge and Mooney Creek so that the bridge would not be damaged.The community needs provincial and federal funding for flooding mitigation projects such as diversion channels or floodways, and a better understanding of why flooding here seems to be getting worse, Kerik said.“Every time we get a flood it’s a little quicker, and a little deeper,” said Kerik.The area is bracing for even more rain this weekend, according to forecasts from Environment Canada.“I hope they’re wrong. Right now there’s not a lot we can do until the water recedes enough and we can put pumps in,” said Kerik.There was no definitive re-entry time for Marten Beach by Friday afternoon, but the district said via social media that it would prioritize road repairs and then pump out water before it would begin to carry out any re-entry email@example.com
An aerial view of the flooding in the Marten Beach area.
Municipal District of Lesser Slave River