Flooding contained to low-lying areas as record rainfall recorded in region

WELLINGTON COUNTY – More rain fell last weekend than predicted and some  local residents remained without power well into Sunday, but it appears flooding was limited to low-lying areas, particularly in Drayton and Harriston.

The Grand River Conservation Authority (GRCA) reported up to 100mm of rain fell on Jan. 11, far exceeding the 60 to 80mm the authority had predicted leading up to the weekend.

“This event produced the highest January rainfall on record for this part of the province and resulted in substantial flooding in a number of communities in the northern and central portions of the watershed,” states a GRCA update issued on Jan. 12.

Mapleton Fire Chief Rick Richardson said the GRCA issued a flood alert for Level 1 and Level 2 locations in Drayton around noon on Jan. 11.

Firefighters delivered notices door to door to residents in the affected areas and later delivered notifications in Level 3 areas as well.

While the notices advised residents the PMD arena was designated as the main evacuation centre should the need arise, Richardson said things never progressed to that point.

“We went to Level 3 people and gave some notifications but never got to evacuation,” he said. “We never had any basements with water coming up to hydro panels or anything – not like 2017 when we had to get people out.”

Richardson said the fire department did not receive any calls regarding  flooded basements, but a local plumber advised the chief he installed about 10 sump pumps on Jan. 11 after the first night of rain.

“We have pumps available to help them out, but we never used any,” Richardson noted.

Mapleton CAO Manny Baron said the local emergency planning efforts were effectively put into place.

“We were in constant communications, even though we weren’t in the same cities or towns – myself, the manager of public works and director of public works and the chief – it was great and our social media person, Aly (Cripps), put everything online when it was supposed to go,” said Baron.

In Drayton, levels in the Conestogo River rivalled those of June 23, 2017, but unlike that storm, flooding this weekend was limited to low-lying areas prone to flooding every spring.

Centennial Park and the Fairgrounds, including the agricultural building, were under about two feet of water in some areas.

Drayton Mapleton Agricultural Society members were busy cleaning up muck and sludge in the former arena building on Sunday. On Saturday, members pulled all the trailers out and they had the hall cleaned up and the trailers back in around noon on Sunday.

In Harriston, the river was much higher than normal but stayed within its banks through town.

The Maitland Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA) reports that temperatures persisted above zero until between 1 and 3am on Sunday through most of the Maitland and Nine Mile River watersheds.

Total rainfall varied from 50 to 80mm across the watersheds, with little freezing rain reported, the authority stated in a Jan. 12 update.

The rivers in headwaters areas, including, Harriston, Listowel, Blyth and Lucknow, peaked overnight on Jan. 11-12. Downstream of these areas the rivers continued to rise on Jan. 12.

While the MVCA says flooding is currently not expected beyond traditional low lying areas, water levels and flows were expected to remain high for a few days.

“Residents are reminded to use caution near all watercourses. Slippery and unstable stream banks, and extremely cold and fast-flowing water will combine to create hazardous conditions,” the authority states.

Power outages were the main problem in Wellington North over the weekend. Township residents experienced a number of smaller power outages as a result of the weekend weather.

Wellington North Fire Chief Dave Guilbault  said, “It was a very quiet weekend compared to most,” noting the department had just one weather-related call – for a hydro transformer.

Guilbault noted, “the emergency operation centre was set-up as a precaution … It was not used.”

Guilbault said there were various power outages throughout the township.

“Arthur started us off with loss of power after 5:30pm Saturday. There were other hydro issues throughout the night impacting Mount Forest, Kenilworth and Arthur into Sunday morning.”

He noted not all residents in the township were affected, he said.

With Wellington North CAO Mike Givens away on the weekend, Guilbault served as acting community emergency management coordinator.

“Our public works department were on regular patrols ensuring there were no blocked or clogged catch basins,” Guilbault stated.

“They were kept busy. We were ready for the event.”

The Twitter feed for Wellington North Power thanked crews from Wellington North Power and Hydro One for their assistance in restoring power to the Arthur and Mount Forest areas.

Community News Staff