Lower Rossland residents have had to detour around Thompson Avenue since Good Friday due to the collapse of a culvert. And though the situation may cost the city upwards of $170,000, one homeowner is thankful for the job works crews did to save his house.
It had been raining pretty hard the night of April 17, so Dan Wehrle whose home is right next to Trail Creek, went out to check the culvert where the creek flows under Thompson at Spokane Street. He saw that it was only about a third full, and for this time of year, he felt there wasn’t much to be concerned about. So he went to bed.
“I woke up at 2 a.m.,” he explained. “It was just thundering rain on my metal roof, so I went out in my housecoat to check the culvert again.”
The water was up to about half. But again, he felt there was no danger, so he went back to bed.
But at 6 a.m. he awoke to a lack of sound coming through his bedroom window.
“The key is, if you don’t hear the creek, then things are backing up,” he said. “So I went back out.”
The culvert was full to the brim and the water was rising to about six inches above it He crossed the road to check the outlet and found there was only about a third of the water coming through.
“I figured something must be blocking it in the middle.”
Not wanting to call emergency crews out on a holiday, he watched the creek rising and decided he’d have to make the call, like it or not.
The city workers were there just after 7 o’clock. They brought pumps and got them going, but the water was still rising. So they kept bringing more and more pumps.”
In the meantime, Wehrle’s yard had become a lake and a foot of water filled his basement.
Wehrle said the culvert replacement was long overdue since it had been in place since that section of Thompson was developed in 1971.
“These things have a shelf-life and it was slated to be replaced. This hurried it up.”
Rossland public works manager Darrin Albo said eventually they had nine pumps going, trying to keep up with the rising creek.
He also started the emergency preparedness procedure, hoping for funding through PEP.
“Total cost is about $160,000 to $170,000 and we hope to get $40,000,” he said.
The city was aware of the problem with the culvert in that area, Albo confirmed.
“Dan had called earlier to warn that it was in danger, so (the project) was on our five-year plan.”
But Trail Creek wasn’t going to wait.
Albo said the runoff this year is average or even lower than usual, but the rain brought surface water into the catch basins and the creek just filled up.
“Sewer, water and gas lines run through there so they all had to be capped off,” he said. “We had to disrupt services but it was minimal – only a few hours. The weather hasn’t cooperated. It was either raining or snowing.”
As of Friday, Albo said the new culvert was in place and the creek is running through it but it would be another four or five days of backfilling before the job is complete.
Wehrle watched workers tear out the old culvert and replace it with a bigger modern double-walled hard plastic culvert rather than galvanized steel.
Although his basement got wet, he couldn’t be happier with Rossland’s public works’ response.
“They saved my house,” he said. “They were on the scene right away. I only had standing water for about an hour. I could have lost my house. It would have filled up to the main floor. Some trees had to be ripped out, but they would have had to be removed anyway. I was more worried about my house than the trees.”
Other than an old rug and some lino, Wehrle said it was more of a bother than cost, which is a good thing because like most homeowners, he isn’t covered for flooding.
“The city provided a dumpster and two students to help rip out the old rugs and damaged Gyproc,” he said.
On top of that, friends and neighbours took him in while repairs were going on, inviting him for dinners and making room for stuff from his freezer.
“I commend the city workers and thank them for the work they did to save my house. They did a fabulous job. My neighbours put up with the noise. It’s so good of Rosslanders to come through again. The whole problem worked out fairly well. It could have been a lot worse.”