Natural Resources

Flooding

Date: 15-17 February 2003 (also 1917, 1943, 1977, 1983, 1985)

Location: Badger

Easting:

Northing:

Latitude: 48° 59' 00" N

Longitude: 56° 02' 00" W

Fatalities:

Injuries:

Source: www.cbc.ca; The Telegram, personal observation by Shirley McCuaig, Badger Flood Information map, Department of the Environment, Water Resources Divsion.

The Water Resources Division have a comprehensive report on the Badger flood onlinePDF PDF (4.7 Mb pdf file)

The town of Badger was evacuated 15 February after ice-jams in the Exploits, Red Indian and Badger rivers caused flooding. The flood waters reached lavels marked as within the predicted 100-year flood on flood hazard maps. Property damage was estimated as being in the milions of dollars; 1200 people were evacuated.

Flooding at Badger is entirely due to ice-jam events and has occurred several times. The first known flood was in 1903, and a major flood in 1916 reached above the mapped 100 year flood levels. More severe flooding occurred in 1943 and 1977. In 1983 homes were evacuated, and $90,000 of damage caused, and more flooding took place in 1985.

Reports

CBC: Flood forces evacuation of Nfld. town

Last Updated Mon, 17 Feb 2003 8:17:41

BADGER, NFLD. - Rising water from ice-jammed rivers forced about 1,200 people to flee their homes in a Newfoundland town, where officials have declared a state of emergency.

Officials in Badger ordered the evacuation Saturday after finding more than half the town under water. Large chunks of ice smashed through windows and doors of some buildings. Damage could be in the millions of dollars.

"It's devastating because everything you've worked for is gone," said one woman as she surveyed damage.

Aerial videotape of the town released Sunday showed much of the community swamped by frigid floodwaters because of an ice jam that backed up the Exploits, Red Indian and Badger rivers.

As the three rivers overflowed their banks, several residents awoke Saturday to find their homes flooded and their cars submerged and frozen to the ground.

By Sunday, the town's water supply was declared contaminated because the sewer system had failed.

The power has been cut off to many flooded homes. There's no heat and the water inside has been left to freeze.

Newfoundland and Labrador Municipal Affairs Minister Oliver Langdon said the province will ask the federal government for assistance.

"As soon as it does recede and we get the OK to go in, we'll have a team of people here to assess the different houses," he said. "More than half of the town is under water. We're looking at more than a couple hundred houses here." The town had to use heavy equipment to move some of the people.

The nearby Abitibi-Consolidated paper mill was ordered to stop releasing water into the Red Indian Lake dam. The mill needs the water to run and may have to shut down.

CBC reporter Kevin Harvey said he saw kilometres of flooded homes and cars during a helicopter ride over the area Sunday.

The water has crept onto the TransCanada Highway running through the town, reducing it to one lane.

Blasting the five- to seven-metre high ice chunks clogging the river is out of the question, officials told CBC News. Instead, they're considering using calcium chloride to melt the ice.

The Telegram

Flood engulfs Badger 2/16/03

By Terry Roberts The Telegram

A central Newfoundland community accustomed to natural disasters woke up to another Saturday morning as flood waters invaded dozens of homes and buildings in Badger and washed away vehicles, snowmobiles and anything else in its path.

Officials were quick to declare a state of emergency as the three rivers that intersect near the community - Exploits, Red Indian and Badger - suddenly and unexpectedly backed up and overflowed their banks.

By late evening, a partial evacuation order was expanded to include the entire community of 1,100 as a further threat of flooding and loss of services such as water and sewer began adding to the calamity.

"Right now, the sewer system has failed, the water supply is contaminated, the phone system could go any time and we're not sure about the power supply," Clarence Young, an officer with the Badger Volunteer Fire Brigade, said Saturday evening.

Witnesses described a scene of water and ice moving in the opposite direction to its normal flow as a severe ice blockage farther down the Exploits River obstructed the water's usual path.

It all happened so fast that, in many cases, rescuers were forced to load stranded homeowners - including many senior citizens - into the buckets of front-end loaders in order to move them to safety.

The water was so deep and the current so strong near the residence of Reg and Cora White that the loader began to drift, said former fire chief and town spokesman Joe Roberts.

"We're very thankful to those loader operators because there was too much ice to move anyone out in boats," said Roberts.

One elderly woman on River Road, Bride Strickland, got out of bed to answer her phone and stepped into frigid water up to her knees. She was later shuttled to safety in the bucket of a front-end loader and spent the day at a relative's house, huddled in blankets for warmth.

Another woman on Beothuk Street glanced out her window and was shocked to see a wall of water and ice gushing toward her home.

"It's worse than we've ever seen it," said Alvin Stacey, a resident of Maple Street whose basement was overrun with water.

Emergency officials were bracing for more water and ice late in the evening following a second release of water from the Red Indian Lake dam earlier in the day.

The dam, which is located about 35 miles southwest of Badger, is used by Abitibi-Consolidated to control water levels in the Exploits River for hydro-electric production at its paper mill in Grand Falls-Windsor.

Officials feared the surge of water could trigger an ice slide above an area known as Three Mile Island, leading to further flooding and damage.

"Right now, we don't know what to expect. All we know the water is still rising and the evacuation is proceeding," Young added.

Several officials believed the initial flood was caused following a water release at the dam Friday, leading to a buildup of water and ice at Three Mile Island that eventually broke free Saturday morning.

The rush of water jammed, once again, just below Badger, leading to severe flooding.

There was a second release of water from the dam at about 8 a.m. Saturday, before the devastating effects of the first release were realized, said Roberts.

Officials with Abitibi-Consolidated could not be reached for comment, but it's common for the company to release water to avoid a complete freeze-up of the river and ensure there is enough water to operate the mill turbines.

The evacuation is a repeat of 1999, when residents were forced to flee a raging forest fire that came perilously close to the community.

With a river of water flowing past the Town Hall and fire hall Saturday, officials had to set up an emergency command centre at Central Training Academy, a local college.

Traffic halted

By late morning, traffic in and out of the community was halted and traffic on Route 370 to Buchans was being closely monitored as water began flowing over the pavement.

Water had also reached the bottom of a bridge over the Badger River that connects the Trans-Canada Highway, but the road remained open to regular traffic as of Saturday night.

The Badger Stadium, which sits on the banks of the Exploits River where it intersects with Red Indian River, was partially submerged. Several businesses on Main Street were also inundated with icy water, and there were reports water had also reached Avoca Collegiate, the town's only school.

Water was also threatening the Roman Catholic church, where parishioners had planned a ceremony Saturday night to commemorate the last mortgage payment on the building.

Entrances to some homes remained open, with chunks of ice bobbing in and out of porches or living rooms. Some vehicles were totally submerged, while others floated several hundred feet from where they had been parked.

It happened so quickly that some firefighters didn't even get a chance to don their suits, said Roberts.

"Their suits and boots were floating out the door to meet them," he explained, adding there was about three feet of water in the fire hall.

Unusual time

Residents have been conditioned for such floods in the spring of the year, but this one took everyone by surprise, said Grand Falls-Buchans MHA Anna Thistle.

The town has been hit with three major floods over the last quarter-century - in 1978, 1982 and 1985. But many residents say this latest disaster is even worse. They have also had to contend with raging forest fires and fierce lightening storms in recent years.

Maple Street resident Melvin Perry said there was about 18 inches of water on his street and water was pouring into his basement.

"She's a bad one. I've been here 35 years and this is one of the worst I've seen. The ice is raftered up Š the river is plugged solid."

Officials with the Emergency Measures Organization and the RCMP were on hand to assist the volunteer fire department. Representatives from the provincial fire commissioner's office, the Deparment of Municipal and Provincial Affairs and Abitibi-Consolidated were also on hand.

A town devastated 2/17/03

By BARB SWEET, The Telegram-Badger

Craig Hurley waded through knee-high water Sunday, rescuing family photos and keepsakes from flood waters that spread to his mother's home from across the Trans-Canada Highway in this central Newfoundland town, but he shook his head when it came to trying to save any furniture.

His mother, Frances had to be led away from the devastating scene. Each time Hurley went back into the pitched-roof grey house where he and his 13 siblings grew up, he heard cracking and feared the top floor would collapse.

Downstairs, sh oes, pots and bowls bobbed in the tea-coloured river water that submerged the kitchen and living room and destroyed most everything in it. The stove and deep freeze were propped up on kitchen chairs to save them from the two-feet deep water.

"At 1:30 a.m. I came here and there wasn't a drop of water around the door," Hurley said.

"At 8 a.m. it was flooded out. The downstairs furniture is shot, it's gone."

It's the first time the Hurley family home has flooded, despite Badger's history of major flooding - 1978, 1982 and 1985.

But none of those events could compare to the ferocity heaped upon the town by Mother Nature early Saturday morning when the three rivers surrounding Badger - Badger, Exploits and Red Indian - got backed up by ice jams and overflowed, sending their waters raging through the streets.

Fortunately, there was no hockey game on at the local arena Saturday morning when the river water swamped it without warning.

On Sunday, it looked as if it had been plunked down in the middle of a giant outdoor skating arena. Overnight the water that had raced through one-third of the town had frozen solid.

The flooding also worsened overnight and Sunday spread across the Trans-Canada, endangering a bridge that RCMP and Department of Works, Services and Transportation officials were keeping close watch on at press time. The water level was two feet away from its surface.

On Sunday night, the Trans-Canada through Badger was partly submerged and only one lane remained open with vehicle escort, according to Works, Services and transportation.

An evacuation order and state of emergency remained in effect, with about 1,100 of the town's residents scattered between friends' and relatives' homes, family cabins and a shelter in Grand Falls-Windsor. Some 100 residents stayed behind, mostly men pumping water from basements and keeping the wood fires in their homes burning to ensure pipes didn't freeze.

Some 1.3 million tonnes of new ice had formed Sunday, according to Municipal Affairs Minister Oliver Langdon. Emergency Measures officials and fire fighters continued to be on red alert. The provincial fire commissioner's office was also on hand. Teams of fire fighters were to have a second night of watch, patrolling the town and the river banks, with particular attention paid to a blockage at Three Mile Island River on the Exploits River, five miles upstream from Badger. There was also a blockage a mile and a half below Badger on the Exploits River.

Langdon said late Sunday evening the risk of flood escalation remained. He'd never seen anything like it. "Nobody can definitely say we're not going to have more flooding. ... It's volatile," he said, praising the team of government, fire, police and emergency officials and volunteers.

For miles along the river beds, massive slabs of ice were jammed up against one another, jutting up out of the water like huge shards of broken glass.

Onboard the chopper, consultant Murray Kearley and Wilmore Eddy, energy manager for the Abitibi Consolidated pulp mill, scanned ice estimated to be 10-15 feet deep in the Exploits River.

A channel that had opened up Sunday that might have helped alleviate the bottle neck was closed again that night, according to town spokesman Roberts.

The water came so fast Saturday, no one had a chance to pack up their belongings, as they had in past floods. They barely got out with clothes on their back this time around.

In 1982, there were a couple of days leeway to watch the water come, said Heather Paul.

"This time you never had nothing," she said.

It came on like a tidal wave, said Neil Hurley, a fireman who'd had one hour's sleep in 24 hours. Fireman raced to the fire station Saturday to find their gear floating in water. They were able to remove the trucks to safety. No one was injured in the flooding.

A combination of high winds, blowing snow and extreme cold temperatures was said to have made the situation ripe for the flood.

 
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