Rosedale and Deer Park residents got their first glimpse on Tuesday of work the city has done to prevent the sort of heavy flooding that damaged dozens of homes last August 8.
Between 50 and 60 homeowners crowded into the Rosedale community centre on Tuesday evening to hear about the changes and offer officials their own versions of how things could have been handled differently both before and after the storm struck.
Some of them were among the dozens of homeowners who shared $480,000 in disaster payments the province paid out earlier this year to people whose homes took damage that was not covered by insurance.
A number of home owners expressed dismay that city officials did not seem to take their complaints seriously, nor did they inform people about work that was being done to help improve storm sewer capacity in the areas that were hit the hardest.
Municipal engineer Ayaz Ahmad and construction and maintenance superintendent Ron Wardner described the modifications made to the storm sewer system in July.
Changes include installation of a second sewer pipe and removal of inlet control devices at key locations to drain more water away more quickly.
The inlet control devices were first installed in 2004 to prevent the storm sewers from becoming overloaded and backing up, said Ahmad.
Once the additional pipe capacity was added, a number of devices at two low-lying sites were removed so storm water collecting there could move away more quickly.
During last year’s flood, the force of heavy rains was complicated by hail and debris, including wood chips used for landscaping, that blocked storm drains, said Ahmad.
The flooding would have been far worse without the devices, which restrict the amount of water that can enter the storm sewer system, said Wardner. Without them, the 2008 flood would have been even worse, he said.
“If the 2008 storm had happened in 03 or 02, instead of inches, nearly everybody here would have had several feet of water in their basement,” he said.
Some homes were affected by seepage, while others flooded because backflow valves installed under their basements failed, said Wardner.
One man, who later asked not to be named for professional reasons, criticized officials for not coming forward sooner with the information provided on Tuesday. He urged officials to use whatever means available to keep people informed about issues affecting their properties.
Others stated that they were not aware their homes were equipped with backflow valves, never mind how to maintain or inspect them. Wardner agreed that communications could have been better, stating that he, Ahmad and other staff involved wanted to ensure they had all of the information necessary to resolve the problem and to communicate the resolutions to affected residents.