Skip to content

A year after the flood: preparing for the next time

The waters receded, and the grass dried out but many local families are still pulling their lives together after last October's floods.

The waters receded, and the grass dried out but many local families are still pulling their lives together after last October's floods.

"We're still consumed with house stuff," said Mariah Johansen, whose home had two and half to three feet of water in the basement.

"It's been hugely stressful," she said. "It was very traumatic for the kids."

For the past year, her and John Bainbridge and five children have lived in the top floor of their two-storey home on Chiefview Road. The basement repairs were just completed in August.

"We had three boys in one bedroom and two girls in another," Johansen said. "They couldn't go downstairs and do anything."

The family had only lived in the house for a few months before the flood. They hadn't finished unpacking, fixing it up or settling in when the rains came. Boxes still sit in the living room, and work that should have been done a year ago has been put on hold while the basement was rebuilt.

"It's put me a year behind in my life," Bainbridge said.

And it has been a drain on finances. Although the family got some relief, it wasn't enough to cover all the damages, Johansen said.

She said the Red Cross was extremely helpful for the family though.

They are on the road to getting everything back in order. But Johansen and Bainbridge are still waiting uneasily to see what the rest of fall and winter brings.

"Every time it starts to torrential downpour we wonder if it's going to happen again," she said. "It's not just fall anymore. Now it's like waiting with baited breath if we're going to make it through the winter without flooding."

The public works department of the District of Squamish has been working since the floods to try and prevent another disaster.

"There was corrective work done," said Gord Prescott, District manager of operations.

"All the major damaged areas have been corrected and repaired," said Cliff Doherty, the District's director of protective services.

The dyke in the Eagle Run area was stabilized. During the flood, water seeped up from ground on the wrong side of the dyke.

"Gravel was dumped on the site to push it back," Prescott said.

Since then, the gravel has been leveled, compacted and manicured to look more attractive. Rock and fill was added to areas of the dyke that needed it.

Various roads have been rebuilt and lined with culverts, and bridges have been reinforced.

The Bailey bridge has riprap along the edges armouring the bridge abutments, and the banks along the edge of the bridge crossing the Cheakamus River at the Sunwolf Outdoor Centre have been stabilized.

Substantial work has been done in the Judd Slough area. Riprap and lock blocks were put in place.During the flood there was a lot of seepage - the river was trying to go through the dyke into the slough, Prescott said.

The 14 pumps in and around Squamish are in working order.

Ditches are routinely checked to make sure they aren't full of debris or growth, but the Squamish area has more than 65 km of open ditches.

It's physically impossible to get to every ditch in a year, said Maurice Wutzke, the roads and drains supervisor. "We're constantly doing ditching."

A new cross-culvert was put in in the Harris and Government Road area.

"It improves the drainage from the east side of Government between Chiefview and Harris Road," Wutzke said.

Residents who are concerned about the ditches in their neighbourhoods can call 604-815-6868. And the emergency plan is alive and well.

"We've dusted off our emergency response plan and ensured that it's still good and current," Doherty said.

Other steps have been taken as well. There is a new emergency operations centre on Finch Drive in the emergency services building by the RCMP, and money has been spent to upgrade the phones.

"We've spent District of Squamish funds and federal funds to incorporate a new phone system in the Emergency Operation Centre to help us with communications," Doherty said.

"Coming out of last year's flood we have a very organized evacuation plan," he said. "We are better prepared for the next time around to evacuate people from their homes."

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks