Flooding in northern Alberta expected to worsen with forecast
EDMONTON -- A northern Alberta town is working to mitigate flooding damage as spring melt causes issues throughout its region.
An overland flooding alert was issued for Sexsmith, a town of 2,600 north of Grande Prairie, Monday night.
Low-lying areas have been most affected, and residents have been asked to avoid these zones as well as rivers and valleys.
Part of 100 Avenue has been closed so crews can stage pumps in anticipation of more flooding due to a warm forecast.
The drainage system is so far managing the in-town melt, Mayor Kate Potter told CTV News Edmonton, but will likely become inundated in the near future.
“All the water from the north of us basically flows right through Sexsmith, and so when that lets go and that really starts to melt — yesterday was 18 degrees and we had wind — it overwhelms the system very quickly,” she said.
“We’re hoping that we hit the crest sometime soon and then it’s just dealing with the aftermath.”
According to Potter, flood levels could exceed what the town saw in 2017. So Monday night, the town put out the call for volunteers to prepare sandbags. Dozens answered. Potter said it was a show of community spirit and rallying in the face of both the pandemic and flooding.
Nonetheless, Sexsmith is anxiously awaiting for funding from the federal government which will complete and push forward plans for flood mitigation.
The $1.3-million plan would focus on creating a larger berm on the north side of the town where there is marshland susceptible to flooding, and improving its culvert and drainage system so the river through Sexsmith can flow at a higher capacity.
Although the province approved about $1.2 million for the work late last year, Sexsmith cannot get started until it has all of the dollars needed.
“When we ran into this two years ago, we were told at that point that this is about a one in 100 years, so seeing as it’s only two years later, we’re feeling pretty pressured.”
Sexsmith residents who need sandbags are asked to call 780-518-0576.
Flood alerts have been issued for Fairview and Lac Ste. Anne County.
- READ MORE: Downtown Peace River could be shut down for weeks after flooding: mayor
- READ MORE: Flooding from Lac Ste. Anne to Peace River as spring arrives in Alberta
All active alerts in the province are listed online.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Laine Mitchell