Tiny badlands community 'pretty ugly' as flood flows in

The Rosebud River has risen, and emergency officials have ordered residents in parts of the area to evacuate.

Water lapping up behind historic Last Chance Saloon in tiny hamlet, population 28, near Drumheller

Life-long resident Fred Dayman has refused to leave Wayne, Alta. (Alisa Dayman)

UPDATE: The emergency evacuation order for the community of Wayne was lifted at 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, but high water and overland flood alerts for the region are still in effect.

Even a flood can't make Fred Dayman leave his small badlands community.

Dayman lives in Wayne, Alta., a hamlet of 28 people tucked in a deep canyon in southern Alberta — and accessible only by crossing 11 bridges that span the Rosebud River.

The river has risen, and emergency officials have ordered residents in parts of the area to evacuate.

But Dayman refused.

Instead, he's staying in his home, keeping an eye on his neighbourhood, despite it looking "pretty ugly" with water now touching three bridges and making the road too dangerous to navigate.

Fred Dayman took this photo of a truck caught in the flood in Wayne, Alta., on April 24. (Fred Dayman)

"I've been here about 62 years. Born and raised here," he told the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday morning.

"We've had flooding in the past but it came up for maybe a day and then dropped down again. So yeah, it's been persistent."

The flooding in Wayne has affected some outbuildings and vehicles behind the famous Last Chance Saloon. (Fred Dayman)

Wayne is less than five kilometres from the lowest point in valley, which is a popular southern Alberta tourist attraction with dinosaur fossils and historic sites.

For decades, Dayman himself owned two of the historic sites: Last Chance Saloon and Rosedeer Hotel. Both are so far safe from the rising river, but he has seen water is lapping up behind the saloon.

"I don't think it breached into the hotel, far as I know," he said.

The Last Chance Saloon and Rosedeer Hotel are historic businesses in the tiny community of Wayne, Alta. (Fred Dayman)

Dayman will head out again on Wednesday to check on the area. Water seems to have gone down slightly in the past day, he said.

Southern Alberta received an usually large amount of snow this winter. Warm spring temperatures are now melting that snowpack, forcing water onto roadways and into basements of homes.

The Town of Drumheller is in a local state of emergency because of high stream flows in the Red Deer River and its tributary, the Rosebud River, which forced some people in Wayne to leave their homes. (CBC)

Officials have issued flood warnings in about a dozen areas, and have ordered evacuations in some communities.

Wayne is especially at risk due to how the community relies on bridges to access their homes.

We reach long-time resident and president of the community association Fred Dayman for an update on the flood situation. 5:05

The Rosebud River also runs through the Drumheller region and is a major tributary of the Red Deer River, which has risen in recent days.

'Stinky mess'

Dayman knows the biggest challenge will be repairing the Wayne Community Association's prized hall.

Last he checked, the main floor was covered with about 35 centimetres of water. Appliances and the pool table are likely ruined, and the drywall and carpet will need to be ripped out.

Warm spring temperatures across the province are causing melting snow to flood roads and residential areas in communities in several parts of the province, including in the Drumheller area, where this picture was taken. (@RickWathen82)

Cleanup will be "a stinky mess," he said. He's already contacted insurance.

"It's looking pretty ugly, actually," Dayman said. "The campground itself is full of debris and it's created some sandbars."

The flowing water dropped soil in chunks throughout the campground. The chain link fences are full of debris.

The campground has bookings for the May long weekend, so he's hoping to get started on cleanup soon.

Flood waters have left debris and sand bars throughout the campground that has bookings in a few weekends from now. (Fred Dayman/CBC)

High water or overland flooding alerts are in effect in the following areas:

  • Beiseker.
  • Birch Hills County.
  • Drumheller.
  • Fairview.
  • Forty Mile County.
  • Greenview.
  • Kneehill County.
  • Municipal District of Taber.
  • Red Deer County.
  • Rocky View.
  • Rycroft.
  • Saddle Hills County.
  • Siksika Reserve.
  • Smoky River.
  • Spirit River.
  • Vulcan County.

The area of Stirling is under a water quality alert.

With files from Donna McElligott and the Calgary Eyeopener.