Trails at Bower Ponds and Lion’s Campground remained closed Sunday, after an ice jam in the Red Deer River stopped the flow of water and caused the river to spill over its banks Saturday evening.
On Sunday, road closed signs marked 54 Ave., which looked more like a small pond than a roadway. The Waskasoo Trail, along the south shoreline of the river, was submerged in water Sunday morning.
D.J. Brough, the on call person for the City of Red Deer’ environmental services, said the ice jam along the river started at the Lion’s Campground. It continued well past the train bridge, with nothing but a jumbled ice floe visible as far as the eye could see Saturday and Sunday morning.
“We’re just playing the waiting game to see how long it’s going to take for that ice jam to break up,” said Brough, on Sunday morning. By the late afternoon the ice jam had cleared and water was receding.
The Little Red Deer River, near Red Lodge Provincial Park, and the Medicine River, near Eckville, also both experienced ice jams this weekend. An Alberta Environment ice jam advisory issued late Saturday suggested that as ice jams release in one area, others may form along the waterway and there could be rapid fluctuations in water levels.
Large chunks of ice the size of camping coolers were marooned along the shoreline Sunday morning as the flood water receded. Brough said Sunday morning that the water levels around the shore had dropped not quite a foot from Saturday night.
Brough has worked for the city for six years and has never seen flooding like Saturday’s, but one of his colleagues, who has worked for the city for more than 30 years, could think of at least three times when the ice caused this kind of flooding.
“That’s mother nature and you can’t beat her,” Brough said. “You just kind of have to wait until she clears herself out.”
People stood at the train bridge Saturday and Sunday, taking pictures and video of the flooding and ice jam.
Jody Barrett was there with some family members Saturday taking photos. “It’s pretty amazing,” she said.
Her son Nick was checking out the water filling up 54 Ave., where his school bus normally drives through to get to class.
“He was hoping school might be cancelled,” said Jody, but they explained to him the bus would find another route.
Rachel MacNamara was driving by on Gaetz Avenue, with her boyfriend Emerson Heffernan, when they saw the flooding and stopped to have a look Saturday. She has lived in Red Deer for five years, moving here from Cape Breton, N.S.. She said she’s never seen anything like it. “It’s crazy.”
Heffernan joked, “I wonder if there are any fish. I need to throw a bobber in.”