WELLINGTON COUNTY – Residents here were spared last weekend from both a severe ice storm and widespread flooding, despite record rainfall across the region.
Some local residents remained without power well into Sunday, but overall, widespread outages, as witnessed during other major storms, were also averted.
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.
The northwest portion of the county was hardest hit with flooding in low-lying areas, notably in Drayton and Harriston.
The GRCA issued a flood alert for Level 1 and Level 2 locations in Drayton around noon on Jan. 11.
The notices, delivered door-to-door by Mapleton firefighters, indicated the PMD arena was the main evacuation centre, but that was never required.
In Drayton, levels in the Conestogo River rivalled those of June 23, 2017, but unlike that damaging storm, flooding last 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.
In Harriston, the Maitland River was much higher than normal and peaked overnight on Jan. 11-12, but stayed within its banks through town.
Total rainfall varied from 50 to 80mm across the Maitland and Nine Mile River watersheds, with little freezing rain reported, states a Jan. 12 update from the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority (MVCA).
The MVCA stated flooding was not expected beyond traditional low-lying areas, but water levels and flows were expected to remain high for 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 stated.
While Centre Wellington didn’t experience any widespread water damage, public works manager Rob Rosso said several roads and a bridge were closed due to flooding.
The closures included:
– bridge 26P and a bit of 1st Line in former West Garafraxa;
– Sideroad 5 of Pilkington between the 1st and 3rd lines;
– Sideroad 10 between 1st Line and Gartshore;
– a section of Green Valley Road in Belwood; and
– a section of Conservation Trail in Belwood.
Rosso said he expected all the closures to be opened by Jan. 13.
Power outages were also an issue on Jan. 11.
Just after 4pm Centre Wellington Hydro tweeted that it was aware of “a power outage in Elora due to a flooded underground fault.”
By about 5:45pm most customers had power restored and by about 8pm almost all had hydro again.
Power outages were the main problem in Wellington North over the weekend.
Fire Chief Dave Guilbault said there were various power outages throughout the township.
“Arthur started us off with loss of power after 5:30pm Saturday,” he said.
“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.
Puslinch Fire Chief Luis Gomes reported “We had multiple vehicle collisions. Mostly on the 401 and a vehicle fire on the 401.”
Gomes added there were no other emergencies that impacted Puslinch Fire and Rescue Services during the storm.
There were not significant issues reported in Erin or Guelph-Eramosa.