Tbnewswatch Local News
2012-05-27 at 3:48PM

Emergencies declared

Darrell Matson speaks to media Monday morning.
Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com
Darrell Matson speaks to media Monday morning.
By Jamie Smith, tbnewswatch.com

The city, along with Oliver-Paipoonge and Conmee, has declared a state of emergency after Monday morning’s flood.

In the past 36 hours, some places have seen 108 millimetres of rain. This led to flooded basements and washed out roads and also knocked out the city’s Atlantic Avenue sewage treatment plant.

The plant typically has up to 60 mega litres per day running through it. By 2 a.m. Monday, the water running through it had reached capacity and caused the main sewage pumps to fail, flooding the plant.

“The meters had actually gone off scale so we were somewhere between 670 mega litres per day but probably closer to 750,” city infrastructure and operations manager Darrell Matson said.

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By 3:42 a.m. the plant was over capacity with water still flooding from sewers.

“We never anticipated in our emergency preparedness for the plant to flood to the state at which we saw it this morning,” Matson added. “We never thought that from a design perspective we would ever have a plant that was flooded to the degree of which we see it flooded today.”

There are two separate crews working on the underground plant, working to try and pump water out before a damage assessment can even begin.

There are temporary pumps set up but Matson said they have an extremely limited capacity, which is why the city is asking people to think before they flush toilets or send water down the drain.

“We know that we’re making grounds we just don’t’ know how long it’s going to take,” Matson said, adding that they’ll have a better understanding of the plant situation in the next 24 hours.

The city received 300 calls by 6 a.m. about flooding. Fire chief John Hay is encouraging people to only call 911 if it’s absolutely necessary.

“We would ask the public to take some precautions on their own. Stay out of their basements if there’s water on the basement floor. If the water gets up near electrical outlets to call Thunder Bay Hydro,” he said.

Lakehead Region Conservation Authority chair Bill Bartley said the situation is unprecedented in the city. As he began to speak to media Monday morning at the North Central Fire Station, rain began to fall again leaving members of the city’s emergency response team to wince.

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Bartley said the city should expect more rain in the coming days.

“They will rise as the day progresses. We’re expecting more precipitation over the next couple of days,” he said.

Members of the public can call Thunder Bay Hydro at 343-1002 or the city’s infrastructure department at 625-2195.

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