Mopping up: municipalities (and others) assess flood and wind damage, hope for some relief

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

The M.D. of Lesser Slave River had engineers checking four of its bridges after the flooding of June 12 and 13. What they found wasn’t available by press time, but at the very least there’ll be an unbudgeted cost for the assessment. Then there’s the pavement (and roadbed) loss on Poplar Lane.

It could have been a lot worse, as people keep saying about everything. Marten Beachers were mopping up all week, hauling off loads of soaking insulation and other stuff from out of crawlspaces. Presumably similar operations were going on in the Poplar Lane/Eating Creek area and in the Swan Valley.

In town, local authorities are going to have to look at relocating parts of the paved walking trails. In spite of the flood diversion channel doing its job, high water in Sawridge Creek through town removed significant sections of creekbank in a couple of trailside locations.

As far as town infrastructure goes, town manager Brian Vance says, “We are compiling a list. There is infrastructure damage but not to our buildings except the Parent Link, which had a roof leak.”

That said, the town did close part of the trail system last week while it did some remediation work. Parks and facilities manager Sean McConnell says relocating threatened parts of the trail may come later.

Assessors from the Alberta Emergency Management Agency were in the area last week, taking notes and photographs in the Eating Creek and Marten Beach area.

Will there be some disaster relief money?

“We don’t know,” one said. “That’s up to the politicians.”

So how much did it actually rain, say between June 10 and 14? Answer: a lot.

According to information sent to us by Leah Lovequist of Alberta Ag & Forestry, three fire lookout towers in the area recorded close to 135 millimetres of rain in that period, or 5.3 inches. That’s a lot, but at the same time “an automatic weather station located north of Slave Lake on the north side of Marten Hills recorded 190 millimetres (7.5 inches) and House Mountain Fire Lookout located south of Kinuso in the Swan Hills recorded 189 millimetres.”

Wind gusts in the Slave Lake area were recorded in the 80 – 90 kph range.

Speaking of those gusts, the ones that flattened or damaged hundreds of trees in a small area in and around Gilwood Golf Club must have been a lot higher than that.

“A mini hurricane,” is how manager Tom Tippin describes it. “It looks like a bomb went off.”

Tippin was at work during the onslaught, though not particularly aware of the trees falling because the rain was making so much noise on the roof of the clubhouse. When The Leader visited several days later, much of the worst of the fallen timber had been at least cleared off the fairways, which looked to have responded well to all the moisture!

The last word goes to Lesser Slave MLA Danielle Larivee, who responded via email last Thursday:

“I know how devastating these floods are to our community, and the worry that comes with being evacuated and not knowing if your home or business is safe. I reached out to local officials immediately to see how I could help, and have been getting regular updates since then. I’m relieved the state of emergency has been lifted, and everyone has returned back to their homes.

“Local officials have done a great job responding to the situation, and I want to thank them for working hard to keep people and properties safe.

“Our focus has now turned to cleanup and recovery, and I am working with Shaye Anderson, Minister of Municipal Affairs, to support our local officials in assessing the damage and applying for disaster recovery program. Alberta Transportation has also spent $30,000 for immediate repairs to provincial roads and highways so that our community can get back to normal as quickly as possible. Long-term, our government is investing in flood resilience to better protect and prepare for future floods.”

This map shows areas of heaviest rainfall during the June 10 to 14 event that caused all the flooding in the Slave Lake area. Courtesy of Alberta Ag & Forestry.

Anybody missing a bench? This article of furniture was snagged in the middle of a log jam on Sawridge Creek last week. A day or two later it was gone, suggesting someone crawled out there and grabbed it.

The ‘trash rack’ across Sawridge Creek did its job, preventing large amounts of logs from getting into town and clogging up bridges. The device was installed by the provincial government following the 1988 flood. The province usually contracts out the clean-up job sometime in the months following such an event.
Photo courtesy Al Beaulac

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