Edmonton

'This water's not going anywhere': Bonnyville seeks disaster relief from province for flooding

The Municipal District of Bonnyville is asking the province to help owners of flooded property stay afloat after months of heavy rain.

Months of heavy rain have washed out farmers' fields, eroded bridges and flooded residential properties

Heavy rains have led to flooding in the Municipal District of Bonnyville, around 240 kilometres northeast of Edmonton. (Phil Laplante Jr./CBC)

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. 

Isabelle Hetu says the rising lake is pushing on her retaining wall, but she doesn't have it as bad as her one neighbour. His already broke under the pressure. (Phil Laplante Jr./CBC)

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. 

​Economic impacts

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. 

Chris Cambridge, chief administrative officer for the Municipal District of Bonnyville, said the ground is so wet that it's not soaking up the rain anymore. (Phil Laplante Jr./CBC)

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. 

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