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Pasadena says it will have to revisit what can be done to prevent future South Brook flooding

Terry Colson points to a piece of ice stuck to a tree that indicates just how high the floodwaters were on Maple Place in Pasadena this past weekend.
Terry Colson points to a piece of ice stuck to a tree that indicates just how high the floodwaters were on Maple Place in Pasadena this past weekend. - Gary Kean

Terry Colson says something needs to be done about the susceptibility of flooding in South Brook and he might soon get his wish.

Colson is one of the five residents who had to be evacuated from their homes on Maple Place in Pasadena after an ice jam in South Brook redirected water toward the properties.

Debris that had been floating in about five feet of water Saturday sits in the inch or so of water still in Terry Colson’s flooded basement Monday morning.
Debris that had been floating in about five feet of water Saturday sits in the inch or so of water still in Terry Colson’s flooded basement Monday morning.

There are only three homes on Maple Place, a low-lying road situated on the banks of the brook. They were all evacuated, but residents were permitted to return to their homes Sunday after a trench was dug to direct the water back on its normal course toward Deer Lake.

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Colson has lived in the area for about 22 years and has seen flooding there before. He says something should have been done long ago to prevent what happened Saturday.

“By rights, it should be dug down and the brook widened out,” Colson said as a generator continued to pump water from his flooded basement Monday morning. “It wouldn’t take much to do it, with the machinery they have today.”

The frustration was clear in Colson’s voice. Water from the misdirected brook came into his garage early Saturday morning and quickly made its way down a handful of steps and under the door leading to his basement and downstairs rec room.

“When it comes to water, there’s not much you can do,” said Colson. “It’s going to go where it wants. It’s too strong to stop it.”

While there was less than two inches Monday morning, Colson estimated there was around five feet of water in his basement when he and his wife were evacuated Saturday.

The power had to be turned off around 5 a.m. Saturday as the water levels crept toward the house’s electrical service. The power was still shut off Monday morning, leaving Colson worried about all the food stored in his freezer.

The couple has been staying with relatives since being displaced.

He said he will have to throw out three chesterfields in his rec room.

“No human being should be going through what we’re going through,” he said. “It’s hard having to leave your own home. There is nothing worse. No one knows what it’s like until you have to go through it.”

Pasadena town manager Brian Hudson said the municipality has contacted all of the affected residents, offering what assistance it can in terms of pumps and generators.

The town held a conference call Monday with officials from the provincial Fire and Emergency Services and water resources divisions of the Department of Municipal Affairs and Environment to discuss water levels and the weather forecast for the coming day or so.

Monday’s weather, which was mild with heavy rain and wind, was concerning.

“We are waiting in fear of what might happen today,” Hudson said of the conditions outside.

Heavy equipment was kept stationed close to Maple Place in case it needed to be mobilized again on short notice.

Hudson said there was little that could be done with the several hundred metres of ice damming on South Brook, which extended from the mouth of the brook at Deer Lake back to beyond Maple Place.

He noted the fact the brook is S-shaped as it courses past the Maple Place area makes South Brook susceptible to problematic ice damming.

In terms of the kind of action Colson says should be taken with the brook for a more permanent fix, the town did reinforce the riverbanks about a decade ago with baskets of stone.

Hudson said the town is limited in what it can do because South Brook is considered a licensed salmon river and has some environmental protections because of that.

“The real solution is altering the course of the river,” said Hudson. “That said, the town has applied in the past to do work, but it has been rejected because of environmental concerns.”

Hudson said this latest incident will likely cause the town to have another look at what its options are for addressing South Brook’s flood risk.

“It is something the town will be looking at and following up on in terms of infrastructure plans and the potential for improvements in that area,” he said.

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