By Stan Ashbee
Southern Alberta Newspapers
From spring flooding, approximately 89 roads were either washed out or damaged throughout the county, according to Director of Emergency Management Stewart Payne from the County of Forty Mile.
“Almost all of those are now repaired. Our county crews have been working hard to keep that all up and open. There’s a couple still closed — still needing repairs or waiting for the water to still recede,” he explained.
Payne noted there were two homes in the county with water in the basements and a number of shop yards or farm yards that also had water in and around them.
“We didn’t have a mandatory evacuation. There were five home owners that self-displaced on their own and they are all back in their homes now,” he added.
For recovery efforts, he said, the county has been focusing on fixing roads and getting roads back open.
“We did have risk and some impact in Burdett. We hired a contractor to pump down water and relieve that stress. The contractor left very quickly before our emergency was officially lifted. That pumping was done, but we still have berms in place and we still have stuff that needs to be cleaned up there,” he said.
Payne said out of the five homes that self-displaced, two had water that actually impacted in the home. “Those homeowners have been managing their own recovery with insurance and/or contractors to help or doing it themselves. But, if a provincial disaster recovery program is announced, then people impacted — even more than just those five homeowners, but others that may have been impacted we might not be aware of — can send in an application for recovery of unusual costs.”
As for the county, Payne said the application for disaster recovery has been submitted. “We had a certain number of days the application had to be in, but we got it in well within the timelines.”
According to Payne, the province goes through the process to review all of the applications that come in and decides whether it was an unusual event and if the government will offer funds or not.
“If they do fund it and if they do announce a disaster recovery program, then it gets more detailed and how much money was spent on each repair and where was all the money spent for unusual costs,” he noted, adding the county had to submit an application in order for ratepayers to become eligible for coverage.
This isn’t the first time the county has had a similar flooding event, Payne said. “We had a flood event in 2010 and in 2011.”
“The flood events that occurred in 2010 and 2011 sparked conversations and studies on how to mitigate the problem and not have it occur in the future. There were plans in place, just waiting for approval on neighbouring agencies and partnering agencies. Obviously, we didn’t have the mitigation in place this year when the flood happened again. We were already rolling the ball from our 2011 flood event. It just takes time to get all the partners on board, all the approvals in place and the funding in place,” he added.
Now, Payne said, the county has a really good picture of what happens when it rains and snows.
“We’re continuing that process. We applied for additional funding for mitigation measures. We need the funding to help do these things,” he said.