Thunder Bay

Infrastructure severely damaged and underwater after massive spring storm in Fort Frances

The northwestern Ontario town of Fort Frances remains under a state of emergency after torrential weekend rain caused severe infrastructure damage.

Town declared a state of emergency on Saturday as 71mm of rain fell in downpour

The community garden in Fort Frances was among the areas flooded after the weekend's torrential rainstorm. The municipality declared a state of emergency on Saturday. (Patrick Briere/Provided)

The northwestern Ontario town of Fort Frances remains under a state of emergency after torrential weekend rain caused severe infrastructure damage.

Environment Canada's historical weather data web page shows about 71 millimetres of rain fell in Fort Frances throughout Friday and Saturday.

"It sure was a torrential downpour for probably a good 18 hours ... at least, and nothing that I've seen ever before," Fort Frances Mayor June Caul said Monday. "Around our area, we had extreme flooding right from the beginning."

"We have an underpass here that had to be closed for a while," she said. "Our sanitary sewer system was overloaded, and we had to create a bypass there. We finally declared an emergency because we knew that severe infrastructure had been damaged by then."

Caul said some residents reported flooding in their homes as well, and the town's White Pine Lift Station — a pumping station that moves wastewater from lower to higher elevations — failed, as well.

Fort Frances crews attempt to pump water out of the White Pine Lift Station, which stopped working during the weekend's storm. The exact problem hasn't been identified, as crews have been unable to access the pump to find out why it stopped working. (Craig Miller/Provided)

"It's going to take some time to get that White Pine Lift Station back up and running, because we're going to have to order parts," Caul said. "So far, they haven't even been able to get down ... to find out what's damaged exactly, and what exactly happened, because alarms didn't go off even like they normally would."

The station remains full of water, as well, Caul said.

Patrick Briere, emergency management specialist with Fort Frances, said in an email to CBC News on Monday that crews were working in the White Pine station to empty it out, and a temporary pump was running in the station.

All other lift stations were operating normally, and Briere said he hoped crews would be able to "catch up" over the next day or so before more precipitation arrives.

Road crews were responding to reports of sink holes and other road issues; as of Monday, the only road that remained closed due to flooding was at Point Park.

Caul said the state of emergency will remain in place for "a while," and it will allow Fort Frances to recover some costs associated with the flooding.

Fort Frances wasn't the only area of northwestern Ontario that saw damage as a result of the weekend's heavy rain.

In a statement to CBC News, a Ministry of Transportation spokesperson said many highways in the region, particularly in the Rainy River District, were flooded or washed out.

"Spring melt and runoff varies year to year depending on the accumulated winter snowpack, spring precipitation, ground saturation, and arrival of spring temperatures," the statement read. "This winter has had higher snow volumes, and most of the ground is still frozen, creating more runoff with the weekend's consistent higher temperatures."

"The precipitation over the weekend was higher than normal for the beginning of the snow melt."