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Evacuated Hay River mayor says town in better shape than feared the night before

The mayor of an evacuated town in the Northwest Territories says her community is “in much better condition” than anyone could have imagined only a day earlier, when high winds and hot temperatures propelled a wildfire closer and forced fire crews and other non-essential workers to retreat.

Hay River Mayor Kandis Jameson says in a statement posted online  that she and her dogs, along with soldiers and many fire support services workers, left her community on a Hercules transport aircraft bound for Edmonton on Friday night.

Jameson says the departure took place under “grim circumstances,” but upon waking Saturday morning she says she found the town came through in much better condition than anyone expected.

The territory’s government said late Friday night that neither Hay River’s town centre nor any of the most populated residential neighborhoods have been damaged, although it noted there was likely structure loss to the west of town close to Great Slave Lake.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who met with territorial Premier Caroline Cochrane in Edmonton on Saturday, says the federal government will help the territory long-term with building more resilient infrastructure, supporting people living in the North and planning for climate change.

Cochrane, who voiced anger toward Ottawa on Friday over the fact the wildfire-ravaged region doesn’t have the same services as the South, thanked the feds on Saturday for recent help from the military, which has provided logistical support with the wildfire fight.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 26, 2023.

The Canadian Press

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