Al Newton of Sundre had to see for himself how high the Red Deer River was getting as he checked on the Greenwood Campground in the town on Friday.

Al Newton of Sundre had to see for himself how high the Red Deer River was getting as he checked on the Greenwood Campground in the town on Friday.

Flooding leaves damage in Central Alberta

Now that flood waters have receded rural Central Alberta municipalities are taking stock.



Now that flood waters have receded rural Central Alberta municipalities are taking stock.

While few doubt it could have been much worse, the damage is significant in some places.

Garrington Bridge, a well-used link on Secondary Hwy 587 over the Red Deer River just a few km northeast of Sundre remained closed on Monday. High water flows ate away at an approach to the bridge.

Red Deer County assistant manager Ric Henderson said there has been no word from the province on how soon it can be fixed.

“It’s going to take some work.”

In the meantime, residents heading east will have to detour north to another crossing and those heading west will have to take a southern route.

About three dozen properties throughout the county saw some flooding, including a pair of homes on the Red Deer River about 15 km northwest of Innisfail. The residents of one home had earlier evacuated and the other homeowners were not there.

No evacuation was ordered but the county alerted about 260 residents on a call-down list to the dangers with regular updates.

The A-Soo-Wuh-Um Day Use Area five km west of Innisfail remains flooded after rising waters crept through on Saturday.

Once a campground, A-Soo-Wuh-Um was hit hard by flooding in 2005. The county converted it to a day use area after that.

Red Lodge Provincial Park, west of Bowden, also remains closed.

Henderson said the situation was much the same as in 2005, although the Little Red Deer River did not seem as high and didn’t push as much water into the Red Deer River.

“It was the same idea as in ’05. You know what’s coming,” he said.

Jack Donald, whose home is in the county on the Red Deer River, said it didn’t match 2005 levels. He did get a small amount of flooding in his walk-out basement.

His home-made flood guard system of plastic sheets and sandbags backed up by pumps did its job.

“We’re pretty prepared for it,” said Donald. While the river is running high and fast, the water had dropped about 1.5 metres since Sunday, he estimated.

In Sundre, life is returning to normal. Patients at the hospital evacuated on Friday as a precaution were able to return on Saturday, as were all residents, mostly on the east side of the river, covered by a mandatory evacuation order.

Kim Galloway, the town’s economic development officer, said the town’s Greenwood Campground remains closed and cleanup will begin once the area dries out. Residents of an adjacent RV Park should contact the manager there before returning.

The town is warning the public to stay off walking trails along the river until further notice.

Town representatives and emergency officials plan to gather for debriefings at the end of this week and middle of next week to review progress and assess damage.

In Mountain View County, a number of roads remain closed including the access into Coyote Creek RV Resort and the Waldren subdivision southwest of Sundre airport.

County Reeve Bruce Beattie said they are still working out plans to get that route open. Installing a culvert or temporary bridge are among options.

After much lobbying by local representatives, the province agreed earlier this spring to undertake a flood risk assessment of the area.

“That was supposed to be underway. It hasn’t been started yet. I’m hoping this gives them some impetus to get that underway.

“We will certainly be talking to the province. The river has changed course again.”

The river is what is known as a braided river and tends to form new channels regularly, he said. “The question is there something we can do to direct it.”

Berms installed by the county so far have done their jobs. But the protection is nowhere near complete yet and it is hoped the province will agree to fund more work before a more severe flood hits.

In Clearwater County, nearly a dozen roads are listed as closed. Campers and other West County visitors are warned to stay away for now because of localized flooding and mud slides.

Photos posted on the municipality’s websites show the extent of the damage. A road at Nordegg mine site has a huge bite out of it and a photo taken on Monday of what is known as North Fork Road, shows it covered by water along a stretch many metres wide.

Many municipal offices have water testing kits from Alberta Health Services for those who are concerned their wells may have been affected by flooding. Disaster Recovery Program applications are also available or go to www.aema.alberta.ca for information.

Residents should take photographs of damaged property, both interior and exterior shots, and carefully log all repairs and retain receipts.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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