Mopping up and mucking out; aftermath of a flood

Joe McWilliams
Lakeside Leader

Water damage is one thing and it can be pretty bad. What’s left after the water goes away might be even worse.

“I’ve never seen mud like this before,” says Marten Beach resident Bob Deacon. “Except in the Everglades. You have to have your boots tied on. I was under my deck and I almost didn’t get out with my boots.”

Deacon figures the mud is a foot deep in spots in his yard. The depth varies through the flooded part of the hamlet, but it is fair to say it’s at least twice as thick as it was after the 2018 flood.

The mud contained a lot of water, and it was keeping the M.D.-supplied pumps busy. Deacon says they’d pump all the water back into the creek, and the next day there’d be just as much lying around, having leached out of the mud.

The big question on a lot of people’s minds was what to do with it. Even if you found somebody to scrape it off your driveway, where would it go? The M.D. was not making any commitments on that score last week. It is responsible for public land, after all, not private.

But if somebody was to push their private mud onto the road right of way? Reeve Murray Kerik said last week the problem has been discussed and has been noted.

“We need a plan,” he said.

The plan extends to flood mitigation, which is something the M.D. has hired a firm to look into.

“I’m still pushing that,” Kerik says.

Mitigation measures – whatever they happen to be – would depend on provincial funding and that is far from certain. Even a visit to the area by the MLA was proving difficult to arrange last week. Kerik said he’d been in touch with Pat Rehn, who had told him he was planning to put in an appearance at the High Prairie rodeo and maybe could check in.

“Take that however you want,” Kerik added.

However, Rehn did visit Marten Beach on July 31. Cottagers’ Society president Randy Elm gave him a tour. He said Rehn took lots of photos and seemed eager to help.

“He wants to get the ball rolling on this,” Elm told a gathering of Marten Beach property owners in Slave Lake later that same evening.

Where that ball might end up rolling is up in the air, at this point.

The situation at the Diamond Willow campground across the creek from Marten Beach was not as dire, but it still got hit pretty hard. Norm Seatter, one of the owners, says the water mainly came from the overflow across North Shore Drive. It spread mud across several campsites and damaged one trailer, as far as he knows. He figures a couple of campsites will be lost altogether, due to bank erosion.

As for what to do with the mud on the general areas of the property, he says the current idea is to harrow it, mix it with peat and hope the grass takes root and it firms up enough to handle some traffic.

Roads and bridges

Somewhat surprisingly, the M.D. bridge over Marten River on North Shore Drive seems to have come through relatively unscathed. Surprising because one branch of that river carved a chasm through Hwy. 88 a few kilometres upstream, it was in such a hurry to get to the lake. The river did get over its banks a bit upstream of the bridge on the afternoon of July 25 and poured over the road and into the Diamond Willow campground. But the foundations of the bridge appear to have come through it fairly well.

“I think we might have got very lucky on that,” says Kerik.

Limited traffic was being allowed through last week, over a temporary bridge spanning the southern washout on Hwy. 88 and around the northern one via the M.D. road. But no heavy trucks.

Alberta Transportation was arranging contractors (or a contractor) to do the permanent repairs, but it could take “a considerable amount of time,” according to one official.

A second temporary bridge was delivered on July 29, but three days later it still hadn’t opened up for use. Word from people close to the scene was that the seven-foot height of the second bridge (above the roadway) was deemed to be too much. This was determined after a lot of gravel had been delivered and built into ramps at either end. It had to be removed, and a plan ‘B’ undertaken, which would result in the bridge deck ending up closer to the level of the pavement. Whether this was accomplished by the weekend was not known by press time (which was earlier than usual due to the long weekend).

Mud up to a foot deep is in many yards in the hamlet of Marten Beach.
The Km. 18 temporary bridge on Hwy. 88.

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