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Highways shut down in Lac La Biche County due to flooding

Closures follow evacuations as fears of more flooding continues in Lac La Biche County

Provincial authorities have closed  all highway access and exit to Lac La Biche County due to flood waters and the risk to motorists.

Early Monday morning, Lac La Biche County and Alberta Transportation officials announced that all provincial highways in Lac La Biche County are closed to non-essential traffic due to overland flooding and the potential for water levels to keep rising.

The closure affects travel on Highway 36, 55 east and west, 663, 855, 858, 866, 867 and 881.

"There is already water flowing on highway surfaces in places, and conditions may worsen," says County spokesperson Jihad Moghrabi in a municipal advisory.

An earlier version of a potential road closure plan was still allowing travel on Highways 36 and 881, but the latest restriction includes all highways.

"We regret the inconvenience this will cause to many residents. This decision has been made to protect residents' safety, as highway driveability cannot be guaranteed at this time," said Moghrabi.

Evacuations over fears from wave of water

The highway closures follow the declaration of a State of Local Emergency in Lac La Biche County issues late Sunday night as constant rain and saturated grounds have jeopardized the operations of municipal waste water utilities and municipal infrastructure. At the time of the declaration, municipal officials also ordered an evacuation order to hundreds of residents living in an area believed to be in potential threat of severe flooding if portions of a railway track should give way and release a large amount of water.

Evacuated residents have been housed temporarily in area hotels, where they are expected to remain for at least two days. The south side of the railway track, which runs through the middle of the Lac La Biche hamlet, was holding large fields of water in several low lying areas. Municipal officials said on Sunday night that if the railway infrastructure was compromised, it could send a wave four feet high through the low lying areas north of the tracks towards the Lac La Biche lake's shores.

The hamlet of Lac La Biche isn't' the only place in the region affected by consistent rainfall over the last two weeks. Residents in the Plamondon area reported to the POST on Sunday night that there was localized flooding in their community, including the newly constructed Plamdonon recreation grounds which are completely submerged.

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