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Storage pond floods Rockwood road,  nearby homes and yards over weekend

Muddy mess - Harris Street in Rockwood was left impassable for several hours on Jan. 13 after a nearby stormwater management pond broke, sending thousands of litres of debris-filled water and mud across the road and into and around several homes. submitted photo

Storage pond floods Rockwood road, nearby homes and yards over weekend

by Chris Daponte


Several residents along Harris Street here are left with a flooded basement, mud-filled garage or a destroyed yard after a stormwater pond across the street gave way on Sunday, sending thousands of litres of debris-filled water and mud towards their homes.

“It was a big waterfall crashing through the hills,” said Michael Frechette, whose home was perhaps hardest hit by the wall of water that some have estimated at two feet deep and 30 feet wide.

Frechette said the water has ruined his hardwood and laminate floors, infiltrated his furnace system and flooded parts of his basement. He is also worried that there could be structural damage to his foundation, given the large amount of water and extreme temperature changes this week.

Frechette was home when the incident occurred shortly after 9:20am on Jan. 13 and tried to divert the flow of water away from his front door with sand bags, bales of straw and anything else he could find. He eventually gave up, as he was “fighting a losing battle.”

The OPP received a call about the incident at 9:38am last Sunday from a concerned citizen “advising that there was a mudslide coming across [the street] and that the road was filled with mud and water,” OPP constable Cheri Rockefeller said in a press release.

Officials believe melting snow combined with rain caused the collapse of the structure.

“Investigation revealed that the banks on a pool uphill from the smaller pool had apparently broken away and was draining into the downhill pool which could not accommodate the extra water and those banks gave way, causing flooding,” said Rockefeller.

Lee Armstrong, who lives in the area and was about to walk his dog with his wife at the time, characterized the flash flood as “a big mess.” The couple went door to door to wake up and warn others on the street.

Armstrong said he can’t see any damage in his basement - though it’s hard to tell given the bottom floor is finished - but there is “a lot” of exterior damage to his property, including a few retaining walls that were “dissolved.”

Neighbours Barry Peters and Terri Monte were not home at the time and are thankful interior damage to their respective homes is minimal.

“I just know my yard’s gone. Twenty years of landscaping - gone,” said Monte. She added she is “very proud” of the way her home, a former barn, withstood the flooding.

Peters said his mother “was fairly upset and shaken up” when she heard the news, as the home they share was flooded six years ago when work first began to clear the land across the road to make way for a 258-unit residential development (still under construction) by Charleston Homes.

This time around, there is a “sizeable amount of damage” on their property, Peters said, but it is restricted mainly to the garage and yard, with the rest of the house relatively unscathed.

Frechette said his family is “really frustrated,” as neighbours were assured after the last flooding incident that it would not happen again.

At about 10:13am on Jan. 13, the OPP called the Guelph-Eramosa Fire Department to assist because of the possibility of basements flooding, fire chief John Osborne told the Advertiser.

He said the water likely flowed from the storage pond for about 20 to 25 minutes (yet one resident says the entire incident lasted upwards of 90 minutes),  and was still flowing when firefighters arrived on scene, carrying with it rocks, mud and other debris that left the road impassable.

The OPP said the road was re-opened at around 3:45pm.

Osborne said while several homes and yards were damaged, there were no injuries reported.

“I’m just glad it didn’t happen at night,” he said, noting that could have caused widespread panic.

The Ministry of the Environment and township and Wellington County officials were also on scene shortly after emergency crews arrived on Sunday.

“The residents are very frustrated and so are we,” said Chris White, who serves as both mayor of the township and warden of the county.

He added the township’s engineers are looking into the matter and working closely with representatives from Charleston Homes to “figure out where the responsibility lies” and how to remedy the situation.

White said part of the solution for repeated flooding in the area could be a new stormwater pipe and drains, in addition to the holding pond.

“But at the end of the day, this type of thing shouldn’t be happening in the first place,” he said.

“There’s going to be a full report,” White said.

Insurance adjusters were visible in the area later in the week to assess the damage.

Charleston Homes spokesman Andrew Mulder, who told CTV news his company is filing a claim for damages,  did not return a call from the Advertiser.

Vol 46 Issue 03

January 18, 2013



Wellington County

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