The rain may have let up, replaced by snow, but the large downpour earlier this month continues to have an impact in Woolwich Township as residents in some communities deal with the resultant flooding.
A torrential downpour January 11 saw the Grand River watershed hit with 100mm of rain, the highest for the month of January in recorded history. While there were no major flooding events in the township, some residents of West Montrose, Winterbourne, Elmira and Maryhill found water an unwelcome visitor in their basements.
Several Maryhill homeowners in particular voiced concern in the aftermath.
Notre Dame Avenue resident Deb Sibley, for example, said that her home was flooded with four inches of water in the basement, forcing her to purchase a second sump pump to clear the water out.
“We have always had a sump pump, but we have never had this flooding issue and we have been here 20 years,” said Sibley in an email. “We feel the township needs to take responsibility and take action to address the problem of drainage and runoff water. This is a poorly managed drainage/runoff system and we need action.”
Another Maryhill resident, Sarah Stoneman, said that while her home wasn’t damaged, her family was forced to cut a hole in a vent to run a third hose out front to help drain excess water. They spent hours running three separate sump pumps to prevent any flooding from occurring.
“We have set alarms throughout the night to check on draining and still almost a week later and still doing that,” said Stoneman. “Our yard is severely flooded and at least 15 homes that I personally know of flooded on Saturday.”
Problems in this community include high groundwater around St. Charles Street, Notre Dame Avenue, Halter Avenue and Isley Drive. Another part of the issue is an undersized storm outlet that runs through St. Charles and connects into Maryhill Road.
Several residents described a “lake-like” body of water throughout the community, near Heritage Park.
“There’s nowhere for the water to go, so it lays and what does seep into the ground, goes into the underneath aquifer, raising the level even more. Hence many homes flooded in village,” said Stibley.
The township did receive a number of calls complaining about the situation that came through region dispatch, as well as directly to Woolwich manager of operations Carter Maguire and the public works department.
The township responded to 20 locations, including properties that received groundwater impact, flooding affecting the road and network and blockages in the municipal drain network (creeks, storm channels, and ditches).
“To be honest, we received less calls than I thought we would, but there was still a fair number,” said Maguire.
“Certainly, there was not a flood of calls,” added director of infrastructure services Jared Puppe. “There were some more vocal than others.”
When a complaint is made to the township, the goal is to make contact with each homeowner within 24 hours, said Maguire. He added they received more calls in the days following, when residents realized the full extent of the issue.
Woolwich Township workers were out Tuesday in Maryhill with sump pumps to help alleviate backup water at the Hillside Residence, an assisted-living facility at 44 St. Charles St. E. The driveway was so heavily flooded that vehicles could not get in or out of the building, which could pose a serious problem if not handled quickly.
“It’s kind of a priority – you assess where the greatest need or risk would be. For that, it was felt that just to be able to get into the Maryhill Manor home, there could be a high chance that emergency services would be needed there,” said Maguire. “So they needed access to that property.”
Issues with drainage in Maryhill were identified in 2014, with problems seen in about a 60-metre length of pipe that runs through an area near the village’s main intersection, part of it under the Voisin Motors site, said Puppe.
The township has been exploring options, and since the flooding incident earlier this month, has looked at relining a troublesome portion of the pipe to buy some time. And time may be needed as the Region of Waterloo, which is responsible for the road, has reconstruction there slated for 2024 at the earliest.
The latest incident shows the urgency of dealing with the problem, Puppe added.
There were several road and bridge closures throughout Woolwich and Wellesley townships, including Glasgow Street and Misty River Drive in Conestogo, and a portion of Chalmers Forrest Road in Wellesley.