A First Nations community west of Edmonton has declared a state of emergency over flooded roads making it nearly impossible for residents to access clean water or for emergency vehicles and school buses to get through.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for the Paul First Nation – located about 70 kilometres west of Alberta’s capital – confirmed a local state of emergency was declared on Wednesday morning.
“It just lets them (federal and provincial governments) know that we are in dire straits,” Nicole Callihoo, Paul First Nation’s spokesperson, said when asked what declaring a state of emergency would do. “It lets them know there’s some things we need to look at, from our roads – fixing them, maintaining them – our ditches, maybe we need to look at drainage systems around here.
“Our buses can’t come on, the propane vehicles can’t come on – so our elders or people who are ill or needy, cannot get heat into their homes – they cannot get any water so cisterns are going empty, sewage is overflowing because the sucker truck also cannot get in there or ambulances.”
According to Callihoo, the community of about 1,200 people has been impacted by the flooded roads since around April 1 and in that time, school buses were only able to run on one day, forcing children to either stay home or walk lengthy distances to get to school.
“We have a lot of scared kids because… home’s supposed to be a safe place but if you have no water or heat or you have sewage leaking, it’s not exactly the happiest place to be.”
Callihoo said the situation has been tough on the community, which experienced significant upheaval last spring as well. At this time last year, Paul First Nation was under an evacuation order as a result of a fast-moving wildfire.
“Some people handle it by being angry and some people handle it by being extremely sad,” Callihoo said.
On Thursday, the Paul First Nation said it was working on a temporary solution to make sure everyone in the community has clean water, likely by bringing in smaller carriers while tanker trucks can’t get through.
“With all this moisture that we got… this is the worst I’ve ever seen the roads,” Callihoo said.
Paul First Nation is the second First Nations community to declare a state of emergency this week.
Watch below; On April 19, 2017, Julia Wong filed this report after the Saddle Lake Cree Nation declared a state of emergency because of dangers posed by flooded roads.
On Sunday, the Saddle Lake Cree Nation declared its own state of emergency over similar flooding-related issues.