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Yukon government announces aid for residents affected by spring flooding

WHITEHORSE — The Yukon government says it's working to provide financial support and other help to residents and businesses hurt by ongoing flooding in the Klondike Valley.
Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai listens to a speaker during question period at the Yukon legislative assembly in Whitehorse on Wednesday, March 22, 2023. The Yukon government says its working to provide financial support and other assistance to residents and businesses impacted by ongoing flooding in the Klondike Valley. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Crystal Schick

WHITEHORSE — The Yukon government says it's working to provide financial support and other help to residents and businesses hurt by ongoing flooding in the Klondike Valley. 

The government said 82 residents have signed up for emergency support services so far, some of whom are staying in hotels and other accommodations while under evacuation. 

Yukon Premier Ranj Pillai said Monday Yukoners affected by flooding can apply for financial assistance from a program that is tailored to support those in need after a natural disaster. 

He said the program will provide funds to residents, landowners and businesses for repairs and remediation for any flood-related property damage. 

The premier said more information about the program will be revealed in the near future as crews work to deal with the flooding. 

"Unfortunately for some Yukoners, this information has been all too relevant over the past few weeks," Pillai said Monday. 

The Klondike River remains under a flood warning and while water levels have dropped, the Yukon government warned that rain in the forecast could cause the river to swell yet again.

Yukon Finance Minister Sandy Silver said people in Dawson City have rallied to address "significant flooding" this season dealing with property damage and evacuations for some, calling it "truly devastating upheaval to their lives." 

Officials said in a briefing that crews have been dealing with washouts of highways and bridges, in an unprecedented flooding situation caused by both ice jams and seasonal snow melt. 

John Coyne, director of the Yukon Health Emergency Operations Centre, said his team has been working to connect people affected by flooding with services providing lodging, food and mental-health support. "We know that climate-related events such as flooding and wildfires can lead to displacement and impact people's mental health," Coyne said. "It's important to recognize that many of our neighbours, our friends and our families have been impacted by this flooding." 

Transportation Maintenance director Bobbie Milnes said flooding has kept crews "extremely busy" in the Klondike Valley, where they're "facing complex challenges on an almost daily basis, particularly over the past week."

Officials said it's too early to tell how much the damage will cost to fix. 

They urged people in the Klondike Valley to have a "go-bag" with enough food, water and medication to last at least 72 hours, in case flood waters rise again.

Pillai said as fire season nears, what's to come is keeping "every one of us up at night." 

"We can't stress enough, it doesn't matter where you live in this territory, please take some time maybe this weekend and put the stuff you need into a bag and be ready for the upcoming season," Pillai said. 

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 29, 2023. 

The Canadian Press

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