Aviation is playing a key role in the emergency evacuation of a First Nations community in remote northwestern Ontario. The Bearskin Lake First Nation is under a state of emergency due to flooding from an ice jam on the Severn River. The order to evacuate came Wednesday. Since there are no year-round roads or rail lines to the rest of the world, aircraft are the only practical means to perform the evacuation but it’s not that straightforward in this case. The flooding has blocked access to the airport.
Evacuees are now being ferried over the washed-out road to the airport by helicopter. At least three flights left the small community on Wednesday. About 360 people will be flown out to Sioux Lookout and the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General is coordinating the evacuation. “This effort will take several days,” ministry spokesman Brent Ross said in a written statement. “Our top priority remains the health and safety of the residents who are dealing with this unfortunate situation.”