City releases flood maps for mature neighbourhoods
'We’ll keep our fingers crossed that we don’t get a perfect storm between now and the upgrades'
Homeowners worried about flooding can now look at a series of flood maps released by the city on Wednesday to see if their homes are at risk.
The city studied how best to mitigate damage from flooding after severe storms between 2004 and 2012 tested Edmonton's aging drainage systems.
It intended to release the maps in 2017, but was forced to do so this week following a freedom of information request by the Edmonton Journal.
The maps, for mature neighbourhoods built in 1989 and earlier, indicate the worst-case scenario, a one-in-100 year rainstorm over four hours, according to Chris Ward, branch manager of utility operations.
So what should homeowners di if they find their homes in one of the red zones?
"Don't panic," Ward said.
Homeowners can reduce their risk of flooding during severe weather by regularly cleaning eavestroughs and making sure their properties are properly graded, he said.
'It's not a surprise'
The city also offers help to pay for back-flow valves, which can prevent sewer backup in homes.
"I suspect [this program] will be heavily subscribed by tomorrow," said Mayor Don Iveson.
Roberta Franchuk, president of the McKernan community league, lives in a neighbourhood very much in the red on city maps.
She said seeing the outlook wasn't much of a shock, because most of McKernan sits on what used to be a lake.
"It's not a surprise. That lake does come up, and it has flooded various times in the past."
Franchuk said she is encouraged that the city is looking at ways to help her neighbourhood.
"I'd like to see what they're going to suggest comes out of this," said Franchuk.
"But we'll certainly be keeping an eye on it and finding out what the people in our neighbourhood want to do. But it's not like we're going to move out, this is just too nice of a spot to live in to just give up based on potential flooding."
'We'll keep our fingers crossed'
Over in Cloverdale — another neighbourhood with a history of flooding — residents were also not surprised.
Paul Bunner is a resident and the former president of the community league.
"When the system does get overwhelmed, two things can happen," Bunner said. "It either flows through the overflow pipes, which means that raw sewage is going into the river, which nobody wants. Or, if the gates are closed, it goes into people's basements. And obviously no wants raw sewage in their basement."
He said the mitigation strategy is positive, but he hopes the upgrades come sooner rather than later.
"We'll keep our fingers crossed we don't get a perfect storm between now and the upgrades."
The city's engineering department continues to work on the flood maps and the flood mitigation study. The department will bring them back to council in 2017.
With files from Emily Fitzpatrick