Dutch Valley residents wait for flood protection

DUTCH VALLEY residents wait for an answer from the regional district about what can be done to protect them from flooding this spring.

DUTCH VALLEY residents wait for an answer from the regional district about what can be done to protect them from flooding this spring.

The whole valley is in danger and rip rap needs to be put along the riverbank to keep the water from flowing over it and flooding property and residences, says valley resident James Wold.

Their land is lower than the riverbank, said Wold.

The riverbank on his land washed away in 2007’s flood, taking about 500 feet of land with it where the river now runs, he said.

“I’ve been documenting [the river] for 16 years – every time we’ve had water over the field, not necessarily a bad flood, but any time the water gets over the riverbank and into the valley,” he said.

“This year with the heavy snow load we’ve got and the damage done last summer to the riverbank, there’s no question we are going to flood,” Wold predicts this year.

“I thought for sure we were going to have a flood last fall and we did have water over the bank and into the field,” he said, adding it wasn’t that serious.

However, he did pay for rip rap at a cost of $30,000 out of his own pocket and put it along the side of the riverbank where he feared his land was going to be flooded last September.

It didn’t flood his land but did wipe out about 800 feet of his neighbour’s land, leaving him with no riverbank to protect his property, said Wold.

Wold has sandbagged the land along the fence between his place and his neighbour’s.

He said the regional district did come in about 2008 to put in rip rap and did ask for his opinion as to where it should be placed.

But despite Wold’s advice, he says the regional district put rip rap in the bush behind a couple of his neighbours’ land, where it wouldn’t do any good to stop flooding, said Wold.

“The excuse they’ve used for years is I should know better than to build in a floodplain,” he said.

“One-third of the world lives in the floodplain, whereas here we’re in a valley and with very little rock, we could prevent this from happening.

“I don’t think I’m being unreasonable. Everyone else gets rock and rip rap, everybody but us,” Wold added of the situation.

Wold has a one-metre ruler marking on a stump along the riverbank that was drowned in water in the 2007 flood. And he believes the snow load that year wasn’t as heavy as this year.

Enough water could come over the riverbank to wash the roads away so the residents can’t get back to their own houses, he said.

“I’m safe, I’m high and dry and I guess I could sit here and mind my own business and not say anything. I feel sorry for my neighbours. There’s no doubt, everybody agrees, we’re going to flood, It’s not just my viewpoint but everyone’s,” Wold said, adding some of his neighbours have been living there for 40 or 50 years.

All they need is some rip rap, Wold believes.

“I know a rip rap barrier will contain the river in the riverbed and keep it from coming into the valley. It doesn’t have to be waterproof. We’re used to a little water,” said Wold.

Wold does say that likely the population of Dutch Valley, being smaller than other areas in the regional district, has something to do with the regional district board’s reluctance to provide flood protection here whereas Old Remo received money for flooding despite having work done already to hold off flooding.

“Remo has had rip rap put in there years ago. It’s partly protected. I don’t know of the situation there now, why they need more,” he said.

Wold has invited the regional district board to come see his place.

The two regional district directors for the rural areas surrounding Terrace, Doug McLeod and Ted Ramsey, did come and tour the area, said Wold.

Andrew Webber, managing planning and economic development for the regional district, came to see it a few years ago and another regional district official, Roger Tooms, has also visited.

They’re all invited to come take a look but Wold hasn’t heard back from anyone.