Flooding in MD of Taber takes "catastrophic" turn

By Geoff Smith (@GeoffSmithLNN on Twitter)
March 28, 2018 - 10:21am Updated: March 28, 2018 - 2:26pm

TABER – The arrival of warmer weather due to a chinook, though brief, made a bad situation significantly worse in the Municipal District of Taber.

In an interview Wednesday morning, March 28, administrator Derrick Krizsan told Lethbridge News Now the 10-degree temperatures caused the melt to turn “catastrophic,” forcing people from their homes and causing road closures comparable to the flooding of 2011. It was between 6 p.m. and midnight that things took a turn for the worse, he explained.

“The water is running actively in many directions, many locations. It is making its way to the lowest part of our topography,” Krizsan said. “It’s being held up in some locations by roads.” Seven road closures are listed on the M.D. website, but drivers are cautioned to watch for barricades elsewhere.

He said the most badly affected area is between Chin and Purple Springs, south to Highway 513 and north to the Oldman River. Serious flooding is now happening north of the river as well, he added, in the Retlaw area. And the ground is still white in the southeastern part of the M.D., so flooding there may still be coming.

He said roughly 12 people were forced from around half a dozen homes and reported to a reception centre. They were either put up in emergency accommodations or made their own arrangements. People whose residential property is being affected by flooding are asked to contact the M.D. administration office.

“Our crews are still actively engaged,” Krizsan said. “Our primary tasks are life, property, and land, in (that) order. Our first priority is always the lives of our citizens, and residential properties continue to be our highest priority.”

Heavy snow was falling on the Taber area Wednesday morning, estimated by Krizsan as around four inches as of 9:30 a.m. The outlook calls for a significant drop in temperatures.

“We’re certainly hoping that it doesn’t freeze so hard that we start having some of our drainage channels and culverts frozen. Hopefully the running water will continue to run, but the effects of which are really unpredictable at this time.”

Earlier Tuesday, the municipality said six property owners were formally asked to either stop pumping water or to fill in excavations that were exacerbating flooding on other property.

In a news release Wednesday, the Town of Taber said its crews are clearing drainage channels and ditches. It is ready to declare a state of emergency if needed, but has not taken that step yet.

(This story has been updated to include information from the Town of Taber.)

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