Ridge resident worries about flooding risks

B.C. Hydro work shuts down electricity that powers pumps

Rhys McCormick bales water from one of his basement doors Thursday afternoon.

Rhys McCormick bales water from one of his basement doors Thursday afternoon.

The many homeowners living on Maple Ridge’s flood plains have been keeping a close eye on the rising North and South Alouette rivers, the relentless rainfall, and hoping their houses don’t flood – as Rhys McCormick’s did.

McCormick uses electric pumps to keep his basement on 232nd Street dry, but when B.C. Hydro shut off the power on Thursday morning, he was flooded. He said other neighbours on automatic pump systems likely faced the same problem.

McCormick received notice of the planned outage in the mail last Friday, and acquired a gas pump. The weather was dry for the morning, but when the afternoon rains came and he needed the pump, it didn’t work.

He said that with the recent rains, and the ground saturated, Hydro should have considered the flood potential for residents in the low-lying areas, and rescheduled the work.

“Circumstances have changed in the past two days, when we got two feet of water dumped on us.”

“I told them that they’re flooding my basement, and the guy laughed at me,” he said.

Even 20-30 millimetres is a lot of rain – and that was forecast for Thursday night.

B.C. Hydro spokesperson Simi Heer said the utility company is replacing 10,000 poles throughout the province this year, and gives advance notice to customers before a power outage. The advisory about the Maple Ridge outage went out on Nov. 28.

Those who cannot be without power are advised to make alternate arrangements, such as acquiring a generator.

At the suggestion the work should have been postponed because of the recent rain, she responded: “It’s Vancouver … ”

McCormick was among 875 Hydro customers without power for most of the work day on Thursday, in the area of 232nd Street, north of Fern Crescent. The power was scheduled to be back on by 4 p.m.

With rain and thunderstorms in the forecast for Thursday night, city workers were anticipating the closure of 224th Street by Friday morning. The closure will likely occur north of 136th Avenue, as the area is completely saturated and can’t take more rain, said city manager of communications Fred Armstrong.

Even a small amount of water covering the road surface can create a situation where drivers can’t see where the pavement is, and they will drive into the ditch, said Armstrong.

City crews have been watching the rising North and South Alouette rivers, ready to take action if they top their banks.

City crews responded to roads flooded by clogged storm water drains during Wednesday night’s storm.

“People have been really good about reporting problems,” Armstrong said, noting there were six complaints about drains that needed to be cleared.

The city is asking residents to ensure their street’s storm drains stay clear of leaves and other debris, to avoid flooding.

“Adopt those catch basins,” urged Armstrong.

The forecast for the weekend offers some relief – a 30 per cent hance of showers Friday, but sun and cloud on Saturday, and a sunny Sunday.