A local mayor from the Canadian state of Alberta pleaded with the state’s Premier Jason Kenney this week to deploy military jets to bomb a 15-mile long ice jam that has left much of his town underwater, he revealed Tuesday.
Up to 15,000 people from the town of Fort McMurray were forced into a mandatory evacuation on Monday after a rapid spring thaw caused an ice jam that caused rivers in Alberta to flood.
“Significant resources are being dedicated to berming and sandbagging the area surrounding the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre to mitigate flood risk,” local officials said in a statement. “There is no threat to this area at this time and we remain in constant communication with staff at the hospital.”
According to local officials, the thaw created a 15.5-mile-long ice jam blocked jamming both Athabasca and Clearwater Rivers, sending floods of waters into local towns and villages.
“Water levels are rising, and the situation can change quickly. Members of the public in areas under a Mandatory Evacuation Order are at risk and must leave immediately,” they continued. “Access to the Lower Townsite remains closed. Anyone remaining in high-risk areas, traveling downtown to observe flooding or for other non-essential purposes, are putting themselves, first responders, and others at risk of a serious incident.”
LOOK: Huge floods caused by a rapid spring thaw in Alberta, Canada forced thousands to evacuate their homes pic.twitter.com/K5WyKtYWJK
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) April 29, 2020
The mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo, Don Scott, revealed on social media he asked Kenney for fighter jets to bomb the ice, hoping to prevent further damage.
“We have requested assistance from the federal government as we face this new crisis,” wrote Scott, who was only recently the victim of a car accident.
Alberta Environment Minister Jason Nixon insisted Tuesday that the situation will resolve itself naturally when warmer weather melts the jams.
“Ice-jam floods are very unpredictable and conditions can change quickly with little warning,” he told reporters in Edmonton. “There is no reasonable engineering solution to unlock the ice jams at this point. We have to rely on warm weather to soften the ice.”
Flooding triggered by ice jams on the Peace River receded, leaving large chunks of ice strewn about in Alberta, Canada.
— ABC News (@ABC) April 30, 2020
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland confirmed the federal government was aware of the situation and was looking for ways to help.
“The fact that flooding season and, in due course, forest fire season is coinciding with coronavirus in Canada is posing some special challenges,” she told reporters in Ottawa Wednesday. “We have been gearing up for those from the outset and this is an issue we are looking at urgently today.”