North Wellington municipalities dodged a bullet, or perhaps more aptly, a bucket, this past weekend.
Although record January rainfall hit the region on the heels of a major melt, Mapleton, Minto and Wellington North officials, along with area conservation authorities, all report serious flooding was avoided and the weekend passed without significant damage to local infrastructure.
No doubt some residents experienced water damage or flooding over the weekend due to failed pumps or other issues, but there’s no comparison to be made with the devastating flood of June 2017, when huge sections of Harriston and Drayton were underwater and even municipal drainage systems in the surrounding countryside sustained damage, some of which has yet to be reckoned with.
Mother Nature clearly cut us some slack this time. Although the Grand River Conservation Authority estimates up to 100mm of rain fell in some parts of the watershed and the Maitland Valley Conservation Authorities reported between 50 and 80mm in that region, the precipitation fell over a period of more than 48 hours, rather than a deluge of 110 to 170mm over a six- to eight-hour period that landed on June 23, 2017.
About 168 properties sustained damage estimated at as much as $15 million from that downpour.
However, it’s worth noting that the river through Harriston stayed largely in its banks on the weekend, perhaps a sign the flood mitigation efforts involving riverbank tree removal and grading projects at the east end of town have had some effect. Many were understandably upset with the change to the view at the time. However, if extreme weather events like the Jan. 11-12 rainfall are going to increase in frequency, some foresight and planning will be needed to minimize impacts.
In Mapleton last weekend, local firefighters went out in the rain to deliver notifications of a flood alert from the GRCA, including information on plans for evacuation should it become necessary. Receiving such a warning, while no doubt distressing, was surely appreciated by residents warily watching the waters of the Conestogo rise to spring flooding levels in mid-winter. It also served as a sign that local officials were monitoring the situation and prepared to help out as needed.
In Wellington North public works employees were on regular patrols ensuring there were no blocked or clogged catch basins and crews from Wellington North Power and Hydro One worked to restore power outages that cropped up around the community.
“We were ready for the event,” noted Fire Chief Dave Guilbault.
It seems that was the case throughout the north Wellington region, which is a good sign, given the climate-related challenges ahead.