The Kicking Horse River, swollen from last week’s high rain fall, rose to record levels (having reached a 20-year water height event), and gave the Town of Golden a bit of a scare, as the British Columbia River Forecast Centre issued a flood watch for the region.
The flood watch was initially put into effect on Wednesday June 6, as the muddy water full of debris inched closer to the top of the dyke. The last time the town issued a flood watch was in 2007 when there was significant ice jamming.
Golden’s Emergency Operations Centre was also put to action as they were brought to Response Activation Level 1, and raised to Response Activation Level 2 on the afternoon of June 7. And the Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre in Nelson and the Provincial Emergency Co-ordination Centre in Victoria provided the necessary support, including timely and detailed meteorological products.
The situation remained stable going into the weekend, but the Town took several precautions to limit the amount of damage, had the river continued to rise.
The alley along the river, behind the businesses on 9th Avenue North, was closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, and was enforced by personnel on site.
Cement barriers were placed along the same alley, and were backed up by a water-inflatable dyke protection bladder, or “aquadam.”
“The aquadam was positioned in the area most threatened, being a componenet of the lowest section of the dyke within the town boundaries – from the Highway 95 bridge to the timber frame pedestrian bridge,” said Jon Wilsgard, manager of corporate services for the Town of Golden “On June 7, the river came within seven inches of breaching the dyke.”
The unfavourable weather predictions and concern over the freezing level in the mountains between Field and Golden (as they both define the flow and level of the Kicking Horse River at Golden), kept the Town on edge for several days.
But the emergency plan processes went smoothly.
“The Town has an emergency plan process to which we apply BCERMS (BC Emergency Response Management System) organizational structure to address the emergency, adjusted to the scope and nature of its severity,” said Wilsgard.
“The Province has stated its appreciation for the efficiency and effectiveness of our ability to mobilize our Emergency Operations Centre and deal with this to the extent that we can locally.”
The river did not breach the dyke, but there was still damage caused by the river and the unusual weather the region has been experiencing. There was some erosion on the Kicking Horse upriver, in the Beaverfoot Area (none in town as the entire length of the river within town boundaries is hardened with dykes).
The area around Hospital Creek experienced flooding with water running on to the property of the Brookside Motel, which has cabins on either side of the creek. On the morning of Friday June 8, there was water gushing through the Brookside grounds, and down to the train tracks.
Some community members had helped fill sandbags the previous evening, but it was not enough to prevent the waters from Hospital Creek from reaching the cabins.
Outside of town, Highway 1 between Golden and Revelstoke was closed for nearly 24 hours (June 6 to June 7) as a mudslide in Glacier National Park covered the road.
Crews were working 24/7 to get the highway open said Jacolyn M. Daniluck, communications officer with Mount Revelstoke and Glacier National Parks. It was no easy task. There was no pavement visible on certain sections of the road as thick mud and debris covered it entirely.
The road re-opened around noon on June 7.