Carbon community gets behind flood cleanup

Carbon Ball Diamonds

When seeking volunteers to help with clean up after the flooding receded in Carbon, social media was a great tool. “We received an excellent response for clean up crews,” said residents Terry and Val Reed. “There were many village residents, Hesketh-Orkney 4-H Club, children, Carbon Lions Club; they were all helping with the clean up. Local businesses have donated equipment and manpower to help. The Village of Carbon Public Works have put in many man hours as well. The campground was completely flooded but is starting to look normal as the debris has been picked up and some of the silt removed. As the campground is fully booked for May long weekend, this work will continue.”

“The ball diamond took a major hit and Carbon Lions have taken this on as their project to rebuild and restore.” As Terry explained, there was a lot of muck to clean up as the field was covered with silt up to a couple of feet deep in places. “All the shale has been washed away. The fences caught tons of branches, logs and grass and even fish.” The field is being bladed and the Lions are looking at all options to get it back to a place where ball can be played by sports day weekend in June.

There was no damage to any buildings or residences but the walking paths were washed away in a few places. The suspension bridge over the creek suffered heavy damage, and according to the Village, is likely beyond repair, and would need an engineer to even look at that as a potential option. Two pedestrian bridges were also compromised.

Country Carbon Flood Cheque

Pictured left to right: Kneehill County Councillor Faye McGhee, Reeve Jerry Wittstock, Carbon Mayor Gus Nash, Carbon Councillors Kelly Garrett and Brian Peever.

Kneehill County has come to the aid of the Village with $200,000 to assist in repairs and reclamation. In a prepared statement the County noted, “While Kneehill County regularly experiences some measure of flooding from spring run-off every year, 2018’s overland flooding event was unprecedented. Late spring snow, combined with frozen ground and rapid snow melt, led to both the Three Hills and Kneehill Creek overflowing their banks. The effects of the flooding proved especially disastrous to the Village of Carbon’s east end.” The County has observed that Carbon’s east campground was completely under water and that campsites were washed out and covered with a thick layer of silt and debris.

Though major clean up has begun, it is presumed that the cost of repairs will be extensive. Recreation is considered vital to the economy of the Village. Though the Village is grateful to the County for providing the $200,000, the Village will also be speaking with their Insurance provider and Alberta Disaster Relief.

According to an Alberta Government’s Flood Hazard Study (2016 Summary) for the Kneehill Creek watershed, “It’s reach contains two cutoff channels originally constructed to reduce flood water levels.  The downstream cut-off was likely constructed following a 1952 spring flood and the upstream cutoff and associated weir were constructed between 1977 and 1978 in concert with residential development in Carbon. Flooding in the study area is attributed to both ice jam and open water events, caused either by spring snowmelt and ice breakup conditions or by intense summer rain events.”

Long-term residents posted that the ‘island’ portion of Carbon had some on and off flooding in the 1970’s but by 1982 there hadn’t been that much snow. “The ‘island’ in Carbon is created by an oxbow,” explained Debra Grosfield, Manager of Protective Services, Communications for Kneehill County, “and the subdivision was designed to be high enough out of the floodway and flood fringe, including the new Diamond Valley subdivision on the east end of Carbon. Only two houses needed sandbagging that were not in these subdivisions and I don’t believe any houses were flooded. Historically there was flooding, sometimes up to the school, however the traffic bridges have all been lifted since then and no more ice jams have occurred. Plus the province installed an overflow weir.”

Ms. Grosfield feels that Carbon will have to replace the swinging bridge, will have to reset the main campground bridge, is working to remove all the silt that has covered the east campground and east ball diamond and will have to replace all the gravel and shale. As well, some fencing may need replacing on the ball diamond. Other repairs are needed to playgrounds, picnic tables, campsites and trail system. “Plus there is a creek erosion project that will now be expedited as the Kneehill Creek has taken much more bank, and is now threatening back yards of private properties.”