'This water's not going anywhere': Bonnyville seeks disaster relief from province for flooding
Months of heavy rain have washed out farmers' fields, eroded bridges and flooded residential properties
The Municipal District of Bonnyville is asking the province to help owners of flooded property stay afloat after months of heavy rain.
"This water's not going anywhere," Chief Administrative Officer Chris Cambridge said Tuesday.
Since last fall, Bonnyville and the surrounding communities have been dealing with precipitation — and lots of it.
Cambridge said the ground has become so saturated that the rainwater is no longer being absorbed.
It's coming from all around. There's very little we can do.- Chris Cambridge, Municipal District of Bonnyville
Farmers' fields have washed out, bridges and gravel roads have eroded and surrounding lakes and rivers are so high that they're starting to encroach on surrounding homes.
"It's coming from all around," Cambridge said, estimating about 100 property owners are affected at this point. "There's very little we can do."
Bonnyville has applied to Alberta's disaster recovery program. If successful, eligible residents, business owners and agricultural producers would be able to apply for financial assistance incurring uninsurable losses as a result of the flooding.
Waterfront properties under water
Clayton Mutch manages Moose Lake Gospel Camp. About 70 per cent of the beach campers normally use is under water, as is the volleyball court and the canoe shed.
"I've never seen it come up this high," he said.
Mutch said he's thankful most of the buildings are on higher ground — which is not the case for all waterfront property owners.
Homeowner Isabelle Hetu has also lost her beach, but the pressure on her retaining wall as the lake level continues to climb is a much bigger issue.
"There's nothing much we can do to stop it," she said.
Hetu said she's one of the lucky ones at this point. Her neighbour's retaining wall has already busted. Another neighbour's house is being assessed for stability because a slice of the property has slipped away into the water.
The flooding is hurting the economy, Cambridge said.
He predicts the agricultural losses will be more than $5.6 million. 30 per cent of the pasture, 30 per cent of the hayland and 15 per cent of the cropland in the area are too wet to use.
Cambridge said many of the municipal campgrounds have struggled to stay above the water, which has caused a myriad of complications.
In one location, the shower house was out of commission because a septic field was saturated. In another location, the ground is too soft for trailers, which would just sink.
Roads have been similarly affected. Cambridge said some now have weight bans, meaning oil companies can't truck out full loads.