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Anxious but grateful Hay River evacuees settle in Yellowknife evacuation center




Since the early hours of Thursday morning, displaced residents of the Hay River, NWT and Kt’odeeche First Nation have been looking for places to stay. Some have chosen to seek accommodation with family and friends or to book hotels, but many depend on evacuation centers.

During a public conference Thursday, the Northwest Territories government said it has evacuation centers in Yellowknife, Enterprise, Fort Smith and Fort Providence.

Initially, displaced residents were asked to go to the Enterprise for more information, or to the Yellowknife multiplex.

As of Friday, some were still arriving at the multiplex, where they tried to stay positive despite not knowing the full extent of the damage that awaits them.

In the dining room, Rita Plunkett and Elaine Lamalice talked about the last few days and reflected on the dire situation.

Plunkett has spoken to people who have lost everything, but she tried to remind them that “material things can be replaced, it’s life that matters,” she said.

While there is much to be anxious about, they are grateful for the sense of community and support they have received during their stay in the multiplex. Especially for the staff, who were said to offer great food and support.

Elaine Lamalice, left, and Rita Plunkett were displaced by flooding on the Hay River and Ktodeeche First Nation. While it is likely that they will both have to undertake major repairs when they return home, they say the damage has already been done and they are trying to let go of their anxieties. (Hannah Paulson / CBC News)

Walter Selamio arrived by bus a few days ago. When asked where he lives, he pointed to the evacuation center and said “there, at the moment”. He said he usually stays at the Hay River shelter.

Overall, he is also grateful for all the support given.

“Everything is fine,” Selamio said. “At least we are not under water [here]. “

Walter Selamio is an evacuee from Hay River, NWT Despite being displaced, he is optimistic. “At least we’re not underwater,” he said. (Hannah Paulson / CBC News)

Many feel lost

Dolly Martel lives in Yellowknife, but was born and raised in the Kt’odeeche reserve. She currently has about 12 or 13 evacuees staying with her. Some are family, others just needed a place to stay.

“I know what it feels like to have nowhere to go, so it was very important to me to open the door to family or anyone else,” Martel said.

Jasmin Toyama and Jeriza Totaan paint a sign that reads “Yellowknife Loves Hay River.” (Hannah Paulson / CBC News)

Now she is trying to find places to stay for the elderly, so that they do not need to sleep in a crib and are afraid of getting sick or not feeling comfortable.

She is also asking people to help support any displaced person in any way they can, which includes just being polite.

“There are a lot of people walking around feeling lost. Some of them will not return to their homes, some of them have lost all their personal belongings,” Martel said.

A simple way to help relieve the great weight that people are feeling is to turn back.

“When the community pulls together, anything can happen,” she said.

Fort Simpson shows solidarity

Leading up to the split in the spring this year, Cathy Blondin said anxiety levels were high in Fort Simpson, NWT

Fortunately, Fort Simpson was not flooded this year, but she said they are hurt when they see another community go through something similar to what her community experienced last year.

“It has all been really traumatic for all of us. It just brings back all those memories of last year and how scary it was,” Blondin said.

In part, this is why she felt compelled to raise money for flood victims this year.

“You want to help them so badly, because you experienced that experience yourself, right?” said Blondin.

The blonde also helped organize donations to Fort Simpson last year.

Recipients were extremely grateful for the level of support they received, but some donations were a bit odd.

Staff set up a Multiplex evacuation information board at Yellowknife, which is growing day by day and contains information on displaced people. (Hannah Paulson / CBC North)

For example, a pair of gold heels. A show was auctioned off, raising about $ 3,000. They are doing the same this year with the other golden heel.

Blondin also said they are organizing a silent auction and several other community events to help raise money to support Hay River and the Kt’odeeche First Nation.

According to a public announcement posted from the Fort Simpson Village Facebook page, co-signed by Mayor Sean Whelly anddl, K Kele Antoine First Nation Chief, the community “is providing space for those who can go to our community.”

Although the community is currently disconnected from the highway because the ferry has not yet started operating, the public notice said that “if it goes by car to the ferry crossing, we have some resources to fly people beyond until our ferry enters”.

Support from the North and beyond

Yellowknife businesses have also grown to help support flood victims this year.

Yellowknife-based Haylani Apparelis donates 10 percent of sales to “next time,” and Coyote’s Bistroin Yellowknife is offering a 25 percent discount on all food orders to those who have relocated. Happy Pooch Grooming also offers free pet cleaning for displaced pets.

Many GoFundMe have also been created by organizers from across the country, including from British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Yukon and Alberta.




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