Troubled waters

Flooding1 web

Virgil and Fran Paul stand outside their home in Makwa, days after high spring run-off flooded their property, as well as the lower floor of their house. The couple would like to see the province address the concerns they have with the ability of nearby culverts to handle water flow.

By Phil Ambroziak

“I’m so tired of this, I want to cry.”
That’s how Fran Paul felt in the wake of a recent flood at her home in Makwa. The property, along with the main floor of the house, was flooded recently when culverts west and south of the community could not handle the excessive water flow created as a result of spring run-off.
“None of the culverts are big enough to handle the flow in the springtime,” Paul said.
Paul, who shares the home with her husband Virgil, went on to say flooding has been her constant fear since the 1980s when bridges west and south of the village were replaced with culverts. The replacement was part of a highway reconstruction project and, since that time, flooding has been an annual tradition, but it’s primarily been restricted to the property surrounding the home.
“Flooding (around the property) happens repeatedly, but the heavy snowfall this year definitely had an added impact,” Paul said. “We’ve contacted (the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure), but nothing’s happened. We’ve pretty much been told they’re not concerned with Makwa – that Makwa isn’t a priority. This falls on our shoulders every time and I’m tired of not being a priority.”
By the end of the day April 28, close to six inches of water had accumulated on the lower level of the Pauls’ home at the corner of Highway 304 and Federal Avenue. With traces of snow still on the ground last week, the couple was anticipating more of the same before all was said and done.
“The whole bottom floor was under water, which can cause damage to the building and they (ministry) won’t do anything about it,” Paul continued. “There’s probably been thousands of dollars in damages. We’ve been here since the mid-1980s, this is our retirement – the whole thing is so frustrating and makes me so angry.”
Although Conrad Read, district operations manager with the Ministry of Highways and Infrastructure, would not comment specifically on the Pauls’ situation, he did say there are many factors that could impact water flow.
“We design culverts based on determinations made by the Water Security Agency,” Read said. “I’ve never seen water run down the main street in Makwa before, at least not at those volumes. But, if the water can’t get away it could be for a number of different reasons.”
Some examples he gave included the presence of ice, overgrowth or redirected waterways as a result of farming or some other alteration to the traditional landscape.
Meanwhile, Arthur and Claudette Brookes’ home northwest of Meadow Lake did not flood, but one of the same examples given by Read did cause the water in the nearby Beaver River to rise substantially.
“It was rising pretty high last week,” Claudette Brookes remarked. “There was an ice jam at the bend in the river, so the river was all backed up.”
Since then, the ice has been dislodged and the water has been able to flow more freely.
“The water level is going back down now,” Brookes said.
According to Read, situations such as the one experienced by the Brookes family are common at this time of year.
“If the water can’t get away, it’s going to back up,” he said.



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