224th Street north of 132nd Avenue was closed till late morning Friday, after downpours Thursday. (THE NEWS/files)

Maple Ridge residents surprised by flooding

Heavy rain swamps homes near North Alouette River

A few days of rain last week put water into basements and garages and stranded salmon in a field along the Alouette River in Maple Ridge, with one resident wondering what will happen there’s a real storm.

Jim Findlay has lived on 132nd Avenue, near 224th Street, for 35 years and Friday morning had water flowing through his house and barn.

“Terrible flooding used to be caused by three days of heavy rain, about 200 millimetres,” he said Monday.

“This was bad, [but] nowhere near [the] amount we can, and eventually will see,” he added.

“We didn’t even think it would happen. One night of rain? Crazy.”

On Saturday, his place flooded again, following a few more hours of rain.

“Two floods, with 50 millimetres of rain, two days apart, unheard of, unprecedented,” Findlay said.

The rain even washed up some spawning salmon on a nearby field where he keeps horses.

Drenching rain pounded Maple Ridge on Thursday evening and produced sporadic flooding along 224th Street, north of 132nd Avenue. The area is within the floodplain and often goes under water as the North Alouette River spills its banks.

According to Environment Canada’s weather station at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport, 43 mm of rain fell on Thursday, Nov. 1. But heavy rain continued early Friday morning.

That led to some homes along 224th Street, north of 132nd Avenue, with several centimetres of flood water in their basements or garages.

Findlay added that he’s concerned that development in the Silver Valley suburb uphill is changing the hydrology of the floodplain.

According to the City of Maple Ridge, high tides on Friday morning backed water up into the Pitt River, at the same time the stormwater hit. As result, water in the Alouette River system could not flow into the Pitt River.

“This area is in the floodplain of the Alouette River and the large rainfall volumes yesterday resulted in water overtopping the road and impacting a number of private properties in the area,” said city spokesperson Fred Armstrong.

But Findlay said he checked the tide tables, which he said weren’t that high.

He and neighbour Barry Lyster both agree it’s the “second-worst flooding, ever,” possibly only surpassed by the one of 2008, when the North Alouette River became blocked after a bridge washed out.

Lyster also lives on 132nd Avenue, where his property backs on to the river. He woke up at about 2:30 a.m. Friday to water halfway up the hubcaps of his vehicles.

He said long-time residents who live along the river usually can anticipate its level and behaviour.

“The rate at which this is happening now, something has changed. We’re just getting hammered down here.”

He is concerned that a new culvert installed at 232nd Street, draining into the North Alouette River, is raising the water levels.

Findlay also questioned the value of the stormwater retention ponds now built throughout suburbs that are supposed to catch surges of stormwater so it doesn’t all flow into creeks and culverts.

But he said the ponds just fill up too quickly, within a few hours.

Then it’s just a cascade of water downhill, he said.

“It isn’t the water that fell on my property that caused the flooding.”

Julie Macmillan, with J & M Acres Horse Rescue on 224th Street, said the water seemed to come from a different direction this time. Her property often floods and this time she had water in her crawl space and lost some hay.

“It was weird. The water was coming from all different directions, so I’m not sure what that’s about.”

 

Linda Findlay shows fish in field after storm hit Maple Ridge early Friday. (Contributed)

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