Sudden soaking smacks Stettler

‘It was a lot of water in a short period of time,’ says town official.

In the heat of last Wednesday night’s rainstorm

Darkening the summer sky, a strong rainstorm with small hail turned many Stettler streets into streams last Wednesday night, but caused little other damage.

“We haven’t heard from anybody who had water in their basements,” said Melissa Robbins, the director of operations for the Town of Stettler.

The 20-minute storm, which hit at about 7:45 p.m., dumped less than one inch — 27 millimetres, which was recorded for July 18 in three separate storms, according to records from Alberta Agri-Info Centre in Stettler.

“If it was 10 or 15 minutes more, we would have been looking at a more serious situation,” Robbins said.

“It just overwhelmed the storm main and every pipe got full.”

Some streets were almost impassable because of the water accumulation.

“I know it was knee deep in some areas and up to three feet in other areas,” Robbins said.

“It was a lot of water in a short period of time.”

Streets that were hit the hardest were in the areas of 47 Avenue one block north and south between 53 and 56 streets, and the area of 51 Avenue southeast of 67 Street.

Aside from some roads immersed in water, no other serious damage was reported in town.

As a result, the impact from the latest storm was minor compared to a storm in July 2010, when more than 70 homes reported flooding due to the sanitary system being overloaded.

“The town has been taking steps to ensure that all sump pumps that collect storm water infiltration at basements have been disconnected from the sanitary service and the water from sump pumps is released onto the lawn,” Robbins said.

“Completing these disconnections saves all of us the damages that a sewer backup can cause in basements.”

No major damage was reported in town, and flowerbeds at Stettler Community Gardens remained strong and relatively healthy after the storm.

Work crews and office staff, and some councillors, responded to the incident, as submerged roads were relatively dry and drained by about 10 p.m.

County of Stettler reported no damage or high water or road washouts, said chief administrative officer Tim Fox.

While the Town of Stettler reported pellet-sized hail in surrounding parts, the County of Stettler reported hail the size of a dime that levelled gardens and damaged field crops for farmers.

Walnut-sized hailstones in the Buffalo Lake south shore area were also reported and caused “serious” damage to many recreation vehicles and travel trailers.

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