Vanderhoof waded in big pre-spring thaw

Pools and puddles of water took over parts of Vanderhoof after a sustained temperature rise combined with rain.

Over the Family Day long weekend

Mother nature may have consummated the community’s complicated relationship with a Vanderhoof pool on Valentine’s Day last week.

Over the Family Day long weekend, pools and puddles of water took over parks, backyards, parts of roads, and some parking lots after a sustained temperature rise combined with rain.

Since Feb. 14, Vanderhoof’s eight-men strong public works crew have been working double shifts and travelling throughout the district — north to Reid Drive and Loop Road, as well as residences and historical grounds south of railway tracks — to remove water and unplug drains in preparation for more rain.

Parts of Loop Road was in danger of being washing away on Feb. 15 and a rush by Kenney Dam Road hill late night on Feb. 16 flooded a nearby residence’s basement.

“We’ve been very busy, using our crew to the best of our ability and maximizing our resources,” said Carl Larsen from District of Vanderhoof’s Public Works. “We had to prioritize people; some waited three to four days to get help, and some have been getting help as fast as we can get to them.

“The big problem is having warm temperatures, then freezing temperatures, then extremely warm again. It’s a perfect storm for a runoff nightmare.”

Drainage pathways were frozen solid and the crews are working to bore through ice with pressurized water. Overgrown or filled culverts also helped to keep water around.

“Some culverts have been plugged off with people shoveling snow off their yards, and some people have let culverts come into a state of disrepair, with trees and roots and grasses grown that impede the water flow,” Larsen said. “Everybody has to take responsibility and we’ve all got to do a better job of taking care of early spring runoff.”

A local excavator was hired by the district to assist with the water draining efforts and the crew would be on standby this coming weekend for potential new issues — if water refreezes and rethaws.

“We’re going around and checking all the hot spots to ensure it’s flowing, so we can be prepared as can be,” said district CAO Tom Clement. “Most of the snow is gone and we’re hopeful that the worst is over, but it all depends on the weather.”

He also reminds trail users to be cognizant that most community parks and trails are flooded; it may be safer to wait until water seeped back into the soil.