Renfrew — During the devastating floods of 2017 that caused widespread damage in many parts of the Ottawa Valley, Admaston/Bromley Township emerged relatively unscathed compared to some its neighbours.
However, this year the township has now joined the growing ranks of municipalities dealing with the aftermath of flooding that has washed out roads and culverts and left public works crews scrambling to keep up with repairs.
Over the Easter weekend, A/B Public Works Supervisor Chris Kunopaski and his crew were kept busy not only trying to repair a number of washed out roads, but also doing their best to patrol and monitor several reports called in by residents.
The most serious incident took place on Culhane Road between South McNaughton and Foy Roads after a sudden surge of water washed out a culvert that resulted in a 50-foot hole in the road that could weeks to fully repair.
Mayor Michael Donohue spent much of last Saturday meeting with Clerk/Treasurer Annette Gilchrist and Mr. Kunopaski assessing the widespread damage that stretched from the southern most part of the township to its most northern point near Micksburg.
“This began on Friday morning when Chris (Kunopaksi) went out to Pucker Street, which borders Greater Madawaska and is one of our most southern points, and that was the first road that was closed, and from that point on it has just been cascading,” he said. “One of our most northern roads is Stoqua Creek Road and that borders Laurentian Valley. It was washed out and it has just been ongoing all through the township since about dinner time on Friday night.”
As Mayor Donohue and other municipal staff gathered at the giant hole on Culhane Road to assess the damage, they were all grateful that so far there had been no reports of serious damage to private property.
“So far, that has been the one ray of light in all of this flooding,” he said. “Unlike the widespread damage to private homes and cottages in 2017 across the area, our residents have, for the most part, not been affected, nor are there any reports of imminent threats and we can only hope it stays that way.”
As of Monday afternoon, there were a number of roads affected that were either closed or in the process of being reopened including English and McNulty Roads, Sammon and Old Mine Roads near Micksburg. Muhsk Road was reopened after being repaired over the weekend.
As for the most serious damage that took place at Culhane Road, Mayor Donohue said given the widespread damage, it will have an impact on the municipal budget.
“I don’t think I am going out on a limb when I say our township will certainly be looking at the province’s Disaster Recovery Assistance program to help pay for the cost recovery,” he said. “I think we are at a point where we are going to meet the three per cent threshold of our municipal tax levy to qualify for the program.”
In the case of Culhane Road, both he and Mr. Kunopaski said it will take some time to trace the origins of the sudden flooding as the area is not part of a major waterway in its immediate vicinity and the surge of water just came pouring through and washed away the road.
The trail of water can be traced back through the property owned by the Kallies family at the intersection of Foy and Culhane Road. The property owners have two trailers in the backyard and they reported hearing loud sounds Friday evening. When they went outside, their backyard was suddenly a flowing river and one of the trailers had been flipped on its side from the force of the water.
The trail of water proceeded through the wooded area about 200 yards and washed away the culvert under Culhane Road resulting in the large hole.
Mr. Kunopaski said the culvert was at least three metres in size. He had no idea of the cost or materials required to replace it as he and his crew will have to wait until the water recedes before they can safely inspect the area.
He was notified of the collapse around 9 o’clock Friday evening and when he arrived, members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) had roadblocks set up on both sides of the wash-out. Barriers were erected and detours posted.
Mayor Donohue said the one thing that cannot be predicted is when the damage will end due to the uncertainty of the weather. He had nothing but praise for township staff who worked tirelessly throughout the holiday Easter weekend, quite often in wet conditions.
“Having driven around to see the roads over the course of the day, I have to commend all our staff for ensuring the roads are maintained and doing their best to ensure the safety of our residents,” he said. “It is Easter weekend and this is a family weekend and they have been working diligently in miserable conditions doing their best to triage the roads and make them as safe as possible.”
He said there was no need to call an emergency council meeting or declare a state of emergency since there was no widespread damage to private property nor was anyone’s safety threatened.
“Our public works committee will certainly be meeting sooner rather than later to get an inventory of all the damage and we will go from there,” he said. “For now, we will continue to monitor and just hope the worst is behind us.”
As of Monday afternoon, Culhane Road and Stoqua Creek Road remained closed. Ms. Gilchrist said both roads will require a large amount of time to repair adding there is no set time on how long it will take. Detours will remain in place until the work is completed.