Sunday, February 15, 2009

Haldimand "The Mighty Grand"

This is to all of the Volunteer Firefighters in Haldimand County that were on duty the last couple days in Cayuga and Dunnville helping residents deal with the flooding and for many evacuation.

A huge "Kudos" to you!

A command post was set up at Station 9 in Dunnville on Friday. Haldimand County Roads Crew, OPP, Haldimand County Hydro, Union Gas, the Red Cross and many others worked together through the direction of the Volunteer Fire Department. They all worked through the night Friday and continued their operations from command post until late last night. I am sure there was much relief when Firefighters were notified of the arrival of the "Griffon" on Saturday morning. I can't say enough about our Firefighters here in Haldimand County, they are in my opinion the best anywhere!

A week ago to the day the "Griffon" was at the mouth of the Grand River in Port Maitland breaking up the ice. Who would have known that a week later the "Griffon" would be back with all her might!

We sighted the "Griffon" on Lake Erie at around 9:45am Saturday morning heading towards Port Maitland. She arrived in Port Mailtand a short time later and spent hours breaking up the ice in Lake Erie before heading into the river at Port Maitland. We were on a hill just west of Port Maitland watching this unfold, what a sight it was. The Griffon weaved her way back and forth in the lake making room for the all the ice to go that had jammed up in the river.

Finally around 2:30pm the "Griffon" started her slow but steady way into the ice jammed river. She would go in a bit and then back out letting the ice flow into the lake. As the ice started to flow, the river slowly receded. The "Griffon" worked well into the evening hours. The last I heard was that the "Griffon" could not proceed any farther into the river and there was still some ice jammed around Port Maitland Marina. The "Griffon" was staying close by in case they were needed. A huge "Kudo's" to the "Griffon" and her "Crew", I can't imagine what would have happened without their assistance!

I too have many pictures of boats, trees, docks, decks etc. going over the dam in Dunnville. Please make sure you check out Bob's photos!

Flooding and ice cause massive damage along Grand River Posted
By By Bob Liddycoat -Sun Media

"It’s like watching a hurricane coming. You know it’s gonna hit and you know it’s going to cause lots of damage, but there’s nothing you can do about it," said Laurie Garbutt as he and his neighbours watched giant sheets ice leading a glut of water flow toward their homes along the Grand River in Dunnville.

Cayuga and Dunnville were particularly hard hit as melting snow and ice jams caused flooding along the 300 km. long waterway. As the ice flows, freed during the recent thaw, moved along the river they piled up at various narrow points and, each time a blockage occurred, the water piled up behind the jams causing widespread flooding and severe damage to backyards and homes. Trees, sheds, greenhouses, docks and stored boats were smashed as giant sheets of ice tore through the backyards of homes situated along the river.

The scenario repeated at various points along the River throughout the day. At one point, trees were being mowed down as ice moved along the shoreline like a bulldozer. A stream running alongside of Niagara Street in Dunnville, flowing into the Grand River, also swelled flooding homes and causing some street closures including a section of Highway 3.

At about 3:30 p.m. on Friday, Manager of Emergency Services/Fire Chief Rob Grimwood described the events of the day to the Tribune. "At about 5 a.m. this morning we responded into Cayuga on Ouse Street along the Grand River. There we assisted 22 residents in evacuating their homes, which were flooded with water – some of those by boat.

As soon as we got people out of their homes the fire department accompanied hydro and gas representatives into the homes and shut down those utilities to reduce the risk of fire in those homes. After the water receded we accompanied gas and hydro representatives back into the homes and they were inspected and the utilities were turned back on and residents were allowed to return into their homes."

Grimwood then explained how the problem progressed throughout the day. He said, "The situation in Cayuga has been stabilized but most of the water has now travelled to Dunnville and there is widespread flooding. Excessive flooding is occurring and our main concern at this point is the Dunnville arena.

We are pumping out the compressor room right now. The water is close to causing some pretty severe electrical issues to expensive equipment. We’re also setting up a perimeter and creating a plan and assessing whether any residents along the Grand River are in need of assistance and whether there are any hydro or gas issues," he explained.

There is a boat ramp at the rear of the arena parking lot and the compressor room is below grade creating a heightened flooding danger. The arena remained in use as of 5 p.m. on Friday.

Immediately after the interview firefighters were called to the Bicks Pickle plant and Grandview Lodge Seniors home where some flooding was occurring but nothing serious ensued. Both buildings are a fair distance from the river and situated on the north side of Hwy. 3.

Around 10 a.m. Friday morning one of the large ice jams occurred adjacent to the Dunnville Golf Club.` Firefighter Jason Clarke who had been knocking on doors warning of flooding all morning told the Tribune, "When the jam broke it sounded like guns exploding and the river rose about 40 feet in a few minutes. I’ve never seen anything like it."

Main Street backs onto the river and was hardest hit west of town centre. Resident Clarence McKay said he had seen the water that high in the past but never the ice. "It’s two feet above my breakwall, which is eight feet above the normal water level," he said. Neighbour North Garbutt said he and his wife thought a train was rolling through as the ice blocks tumbled over each other and piled up along the shoreline.

Here is some pics from earlier today;

Coast Guard icebreaker sent to open river

PORT MAITLAND, Ont. -- A Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker has arrived to help chop up ice in the Grand River, southeast of Hamilton, and release a jam that's caused massive flooding.
The ship pulled into Port Maitland mid-afternoon, after spending several hours clearing space in Lake Erie so there would be room for incoming ice.

Port Maitland, a tiny community located on the north shore of the lake, was evacuated and all its power cut as a precaution.

Just up the river in Dunnville, flooding has submerged streets and forced people to flee their homes in search of higher ground.

Dave Schultz of the Grand River Conservation Authority says he's not sure how long it will take for the ship to release the jam.

An ice breaker worked for six hours Thursday to unblock a similar situation in Wallaceburg, a town between Sarnia and Chatham, allowing a state of emergency there to be lifted Friday following massive flooding.

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