By Jenn Watt
Published May 16
The town of Minden spent last week in a state of emergency with roads and bridges closed to not only vehicles but also pedestrians throughout the week as the Gull River continued to rise.
According to Parks Canada between 100 and 125 millimetres of rain fell in the Haliburton area in April. The average for the month is 76 mm. In the first week of May an additional 100 to 125 mm of rain fell. The average for the entire month of May is 93 mm for Haliburton.
The additional precipitation backed up water in the reservoir lakes which flows through the Gull River and Minden.
While the town experienced flooding so too have many of the area’s lakes said Dysart et al Reeve Murray Fearrey.
“That’s because they’re backing it up to hold [the water] from going down south” Fearrey said of Parks Canada which controls the Trent-Severn Waterway and the water levels in many of the county’s lakes.
Eagle Kennisis and Redstone lakes are all particularly high he said with property owners telling him there is at least as much flooding as the last major episode in 2013.
Valerie Kuinka and Richard Margison’s place is on Mountain Lake. Over the last couple of weeks they say the water has been steadily rising
“The water has gone up to the house” Kuinka said in an interview on Thursday. “We’re like an island right now.”
Water has flooded their garage and they have two sump pumps and sandbags protecting the house.
“Even then it’s just to the top of the sandbags” she said.
On Pine Lake in West Guilford those living closest to the river are seeing substantial flooding.
“We’re fairly far back [from the lake] but the problem is it’s not just Pine Lake. I’m one property over from the river” said Janet Grant. “When they [Parks Canada] start messing around with the canal system it comes over both ways. It comes over land from the river and it comes up from the lake.”
Grant said there was no indication in past weeks that the flooding would happen. Since mid-April various family members have been at the cottage and found lake levels low with her dock stranded on the beach. Then suddenly the flood hit and waters washed up all around the cottage.
There is little she and her husband Dan can do about the water right now so she said she’s waiting to see the damage once the lake levels drop.
In 2013 the water got high enough to enter the cottage. They rented industrial fans to dry out the floorboards.
Janet said she’s concerned about what her lawn and decks will look like when the water is gone.
“So much [stuff] is washed up and so much of the surface is washed away and [water] rots away at things like stairs and decking let alone interior damage” she said.
Margot Roberts lives close to the Grants. She’s been watching another neighbour’s place and is also watching the river rise on her property.
“Our entire yard is under water. We are very lucky because the house is on the other side of the driveway on a bit of a rise but we lost our dock. It got stuck under the bridge. We don’t know where it went [after that]” she said.
Roberts said she hasn’t lost anything but has seen several trees uprooted in the flood floating down the river one which was stuck under the bridge last week.
“There’s a lot of damage to yards and people’s basements. The house on the other side of the bridge on the lake side the water’s halfway up the wall” she said.
Grant wondered what the municipality could be doing to assist those flooded out.
“What does the municipality do about this? This isn’t just rain in this case” she said noting the low lake levels just weeks before.
Fearrey said the municipality has been providing sand and giving out flood information both on the radio and on its website. As for the lake levels he said a larger conversation needs to happen with Parks Canada.
“This is a bigger problem now” he said. “With the new Kennisis Lake Dam we could save Minden from a terrible mess [because it held back more water than in previous years] but then we backed up everywhere else. Algonquin Highlands is facing the same thing. We need a unified approach on this and get a solution to allow more to go out the south end in some fashion.”