‘Everybody downtown lost everything’: homes, band office, school damaged by flooding in Jean Marie River

Flooding in Jean Marie River. (Photo courtesy of Chief Stanley Sanguez.)

Jean Marie River (TthedzehK’edeli) First Nation Chief Stanley Sanguez says his community is devastated by flooding. 

“Everybody downtown lost everything,” Sanguez says with emphasis.  

The flooding started on Friday as water levels quickly rose to a height not seen since 1963. 

Sanguez says the community was prepared for the situation. The first siren alerted residents to prepare to evacuate and a second siren signified that it was time to leave.

He said most members of the community are staying at the Snowshoe Inn in Fort Providence. 

But Chief Sanguez remains in the community investigating the damage. 

“I just don’t want to leave the community here,” he says with a sigh. “The band office, the school, every house downtown are all underwater for at least three feet.”

The airport has also been flooded and homes have been contaminated with overflowed sewage and diesel. 

A generator has established cell service for the community but power remains out. 

Chief Sanguez says if the water continues to recede they could bring in a generator to bring power back to the community. 

As for what happens next, Sanguez says the community will need support from government to repair all the damaged infrastructure. 

“We’re gonna have to start from scratch,” he says, while adding with a small laugh, “and hopefully win a million dollars in the lottery.”

Jay Boast a spokesperson for the department of Municipal and Community Affairs, says in an email the Disaster Assistance Policy provides financial assistance to NWT community governments, small business owners and residents who have suffered damage and loss as a result of a disaster.

He adds, it’s important for residents to know this assistance has limitations, property owners are expected to have made serious effort to protect property and minimize risk, they are also expected to have insurance coverage where it is available.

A GoFundMe was also started to help raise money for those affected in Jean Marie River.

This story will be updated.

About the Author

Luke Carroll
Luke Carroll is a journalist originally from Brockville, Ont. He has previously worked as a reporter and editor in Ottawa, Halifax and New Brunswick. Luke is a graduate of Carleton University's bachelor of journalism program. If you have a story idea, feel free to send him an email at luke.carroll@cklbradio.com