Officials in the Town of Gravenhurst said they are continuing to monitor local waterways closely as communities in northern Muskoka declare flooding-related emergencies.
Mayor Paul Kelly said there are small pockets of Gravenhurst that are affected by the freshet every year, mentioning that he spoke with several property owners on the Severn River on April 25. They advised him that the water level is already dropping and that they believe that this year is not as bad as years in the past. However, with a rainfall warning issued by Environment Canada yesterday, town officials are watching for changes in water levels.
“The river systems in North Muskoka are very different from those in our community, and we know from past years that our experience is dissimilar to theirs, but having said that, we’ve been extremely vigilant about the safety of our community,” Kelly said. “The extreme water flows that warranted declarations of emergencies in Bracebridge and Huntsville have not materialized in Gravenhurst to this point in time, but we are being very watchful.”
Sandbagging supplies were established in Gravenhurst during March break as an added proactive measure, and town officials say they are seeing good usage by the community.
“The Town’s Infrastructure Services staff instituted enhanced monitoring in mid-March in anticipation of the spring freshet, and a staff team has been watching the data points daily,” said Deputy Fire Chief Todd Clapp, who also acts as the community emergency management coordinator. “We also began public messaging in early March prior to the start of the freshet, because we wanted those who have traditionally been affected to have it top of mind.”
While some isolated pockets of flooding have occurred in South Gravenhurst, none have been as damaging or intense as those in northern Muskoka. Clapp said the staff receives regular inputs from sources like the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry, the Trent Severn Waterway and a network of neighbours for their data collection. The emergency management team is ready to act when and if necessary, according to the town, and all of the town’s departments are ready to do so.
Tips on preparatory actions for flood prone areas from the Town of Gravenhurst:
- Relocate items of value above flood levels. This includes items in basements, garages, sheds, yards, boathouses or other structures.
- Check your sump pump to ensure its working properly. Make sure the area around and above the pump is free from combustible materials.
- Know where sandbag/sand stock piles are located nearest to your home.
- Have an emergency generator available in case of power failure.
- Pre-arrange emergency accommodations and prepare a “go bag” in case of evacuation. If you are forced to evacuate your home, remember to make allowances for pets, medications and other personal items.
- Make sure docks and propane supply tanks are secured.
- Listen to radio and media alerts regarding severe weather. Stay informed.