Flooding damages dozens of homes that survived the Fort McMurray wildfire
'I've never heard thunder that bad. It was like the world was cracking in half.’
At least 41 homeowners are now dealing with water damage in Fort McMurray after a flash flood over the weekend.
Officials expect that number to rise in coming days, as families return from their long weekend vacations — and as workers go through the homes that remain standing in neighbourhoods still blocked because of wildfire damage.
"I've never heard thunder that bad," Don Hildebrand said of the storm that came into town Sunday morning. "Everybody literally in my house was just frightened to death. It was like the world was cracking in half."
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As much as 85 millimetres of rain fell in parts of the city that day, mainly in two residential neighbourhoods and some areas of downtown.
At the downtown Superstore — one of the first grocery stores to open to returning wildfire evacuees in June — a manhole cover blew off and spouted water up to six feet in the air.
The city sent crews to vacuum up the water and clear the streets. Roadways were cleared within a couple of hours.
Gotta pick up and move on.- Rod Delint
But in some areas, the damage was already done. Rod Delint's son discovered the flooding soon after he had left for work — sewer water shot up from his toilet like a fountain.
By the end of the day, about four inches of that water had collected in his basement. He estimates the damage to be between $30,000 and $40,000, and doesn't yet know if insurance will fully cover it.
As a small business owner who was already struggling before the wildfires hit, he said it's hard. But his attitude is stoic.
"We come up here and we work hard and you see things that happen and you have to adapt," Delint said. "Gotta pick up and move on."
While most Fort McMurray residents have applied that same "stronger together" mentality made famous during the wildfires, they say they're definitely feeling the impact of a second shot from Mother Nature — especially so soon after the first.
"It was six hours of non-stop downpour," said Superstore employee Colleen Majeau. She said she watched a car get completely covered with water in just 20 minutes.
"It's sad. It's overwhelming," she added.