The City of Thunder Bay is preparing to receive approximately 180 people from Bearskin Lake First Nation over the course of the next 48 hours as the community declared a state of emergency on Sunday due to an ice jam along the Severn River, causing water to rise rapidly close by.

Large amounts of ice and water are already covering up main roadways including those to the airport. Residents are being airlifted by helicopter to the local airport by the Ministry of Natural Resources.

Sioux Lookout is also serving as a host community, receiving up to 175 evacuees as early as today.

"Thunder Bay’s Emergency Operations Control Group is very experienced in dealing with these types of emergencies,” said Mayor Bill Mauro. “Our decision to be a host community is based on confirmation that at this time we have the necessary resources to meet the needs of our community and the evacuees.”

Bearskin Lake First Nation is a fly-in community located approximately 425 km north of Sioux Lookout and has a population of approximately 460.

The local coordinating team including the City of Thunder Bay, Police, Fire & Rescue, Superior North EMS, Emergency Management Ontario and Canadian Red Cross, will continue to meet to make necessary arrangements. 

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Contact:          John Hay, Fire Chief – Thunder Bay Fire Rescue, 628-4774

                        Stacey Levanen, Public Information Officer, 625-3650