River Breakup

26 Apr

Every year at about this time, the question on everyone’s lips is, "Will there be a flood?"  The last time there was a serious flood in Fort Liard was in 1989, and they say one comes every 10 years or so.  So we’re rather overdue.  This year, with record snowfalls all over the Western Arctic, there is a tremendous amount of water that will be seeking its way to the northern seas.  On the other hand, we’ve had a slow and steady melt, which helps to keep the river flowing steadily, rather than overflowing its banks.  It’s a nerve-wracking and exciting time of year.  Our house happens to be out of the flood zone, as it is one of the highest points in town, although it doesn’t look it, so I guess I have no right to be nervous.  But practically all of our friends would be affected, and flooding’s no joke.

Last year was very uneventful, with the river ice just rotting away to nothing, much as a lake would do.  Two years ago, though, was pretty touch and go.  There’s a bend in the river, a little downstream from town, where the ice started jamming and damming.  You should see how fast the water can rise.  Michael almost got stuck out at the barge landing; he and a couple of RCMP members were watching the water, when someone remembered that the road back to town would get washed out if it rose much higher.  As it was, they made it out just in time; they had to drive through a puddle that washed down the skid-plate of the truck.

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