Monday, 24 June 2013

The destruction at Dead Man's Flats

We as we continue to do small projects (clean up the mess, dry out the studs, disinfect the floors, re-light the water heater, etc), I had time today to get over to Dead Man's Flats to see the havoc wrought there. And on the way there.
A small creek east of Canmore covered the TCH in rubble
Truckloads to remove
Pigeon Creek flowing over the road 
Pigeon Creek flowing over the TCH
Pigeon Creek has been re-diverted to flow over the TransCanada because it plugged or blew up its own culverts under the TransCanada and the side roads.
The water lifted it... 
...AND the water then cut right though the road...
...and then cut a new path around this bridge.
Generally, our condo property was unscathed. No water got into any units. But... the creek cut a brand new, 8' deep, 15' wide channel. Right under the deck of one of our buildings, completely exposing the foundations and collapsing the decks.
Dangling decks 
Exposed foundations 
The view from the old creek bed 
A backhoe works in the background 
Trees knocked over into the collapsing decks
There's mud all over the place.
Units 31 & 32.
The reason I had to got to the condo was because the MD has already initiated work on putting the creek back where it belongs. Three backhoes were working in the creek bed attempting to put the creek back in the channel it used to occupy, and build a berm on either side.
Working away 
A short finished section of one side of the berm
While a noble effort, and one that will "work" during low flow, to me it's not a long term solution. This is an alluvial fan. The creek moves, and this storm proves that (not that proof is needed). The creek's 10's of meters from where it used to be. A man made bank will erode even if protected.
Our "protected" bank, and the rip rap that was washed away 
The rip raps out there somewhere 
Two chunks here. And some pallets
There were pallets everywhere, all of which came out of the Thunderstone Quarry up the creek about 2 km. As did a bunch of their rock.

I took a walk down past the playground...
A mud pit
...past the bridge that used to cross the creek but now crosses basically nothing, because the creek's miles away...
On the bright side, the bridge is still standing the mud filled campground.
A campsite no one will be using soon 
Campsite #8 
This used to be a creek
On the way home, I stopped at an overlook where you can see most of Canmore. And some of the destruction caused by Cougar Creek.
The wrecked homes on the edge. Note the pedestrian bridge 
In the back the pedestrian bridge. In the front, the TCH bridge 
Yes, that's actually the Trans Canada Highway bridge
The highway is missing. Just missing. The bridge used to be 10's of feet above the creek, now it's 5' or less. The pedestrian bridge, remarkably still standing, shows where the creek's banks used to be.

Pallets in the trees
Man, I always knew that water was powerful, but wow, to see it in action is something else.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

And the repairs commence

The water has stopped coming in the walls, and the smell of nastiness has commenced. So we knuckled down and got down to tearing out the ruined drywall. I found a couple of pros on the 'net who said you could actually dry it in place, but I'm really not confidant that was possible in our case. After much debate, we started with a technique to cut the wall 16" off the floor (the top of the wet line), tear the wet stuff out, then do a finish cut 20" above the floor in the dry section of the drywall.
Step 1: Mark 2 lines, cut the lower one 
Step 2: Push in
Step 3: Start pulling 
The piece come 
Ready for final cutting
KC cuts...
...and kicks...
...and pulls.
And so it went. We quickly quit doing the double cut, and started just cutting at the 20" mark, using cool little drywall saws that KC found. Soon the wet stuff was disappearing.
Working away down the walls 
Mostly done 
Large spaces cleared
We found a few horrors. In one area, the smell got worse and worse as time progressed and we got closer. We pulled the wall off, and found a mouse cemetery.
One recently dead one in the upper corner
Our hope is that these are the ones who have been eating out mouse poison, dying and drying up. We would like to believe that they only started to smell because they got wet. We would like to believe they're the only ones left in the house. We would like to believe that we will win the $10 million lottery next week.

We found poop of some animal, though what kind we don't know.
Pine martin? Cat? Dog?
We found a bunch of mold, especially around the back of the furnace. I didn't stop to take many pictures of the black splotches on the drywall. But I did get pictures of the wood it was attached to.
Black wood 
A close up
The mold was old (hey, that rhymes). It's clear the basement flooded in the past, and someone tried to dry it in place (and failed). We sprayed the moldy wood (and the mouse cemetery) with a LOT of bleach. Here's hoping.

Now, we're running a lot of fans and the basement is finally drying. There was a bunch of moisture behind the walls that will now dry -- including the base of the fireplace, which is in the centre of the house, meaning the water was coming up from underneath, too.
Moisture at the bottom
The bad stuff is gone, and the drying will take a few days. So tomorrow, we're going to take it easy.

On a separate note, I had to go out and get supplies today. The roads are returning to normal (though travel between Banff, Calgary and Canmore is challenging). On my way to Canmore, I saw this. Last week, it was a creek channel. Today, it is the aftermath of the floods, and it's no longer a creek channel, it's just a pile of rubble.
There was a creek channel there last week 
That wasn't there 
Also not there
I saw mud in Canmore in places mud shouldn't be. But the mess is getting cleaned up.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

The rain stopped!

Mostly, I'm just re-posting my Facebook stuff -- but with photos.

We have been joined by our friend Monty, who has been living in our place in Dead Man's Flats. DMF is under a mandatory evacuation order as I write this because Pigeon Creek is about to take away some of the buildings (though not ours), but Monty got out last night and got here at 10 PM.

We all spent the day in the basement mopping & shop-vac-ing. We didn't have much mud, but in some places we had to add more water to the floor to make the mud move before we could suck up the yeuch.
Monty on Shop-Vac duty
Virtually 100% of our basement water is now gone. Most the day was sunny and warm, which facilitated us blowing air through the basement to dry it out. Then we pulled all the wet and destroyed baseboard off, and took out the damaged stuff.
Note the warped baseboard behind the desk 
Baseboard gone 
This wallboard just disinigrated 
A real mess in this space
Cleaned of mud and vacuumed -- but still not pleasant
Not much was lost and taken to the front balcony for disposal. An under-bed box we forgot was there, some linens that were in the box and are wrecked, a small chipboard wood filing cabinet that got waterlogged, a bunch of cardboard boxes, etc. I had a guitar in a case that was wet; I thought the case was empty. Bad on my part. I hope to save the guitar. The case has my Jimmy Buffet tour sticker on it. Sentimental value.

Our hot water tank appears to be fine but will not light, so we have no hot water. We ran the hose all day and our water is running clearer all the time, but we're still under a personally implemented "boil water order". Our water's kind of off-yellow anyway.

Everything was great until 5:30 pm, when it started raining again.

Thunderstorms came down from the north west, but the one that hit us was thankfully small. If the water table comes back up, water will start coming in again. I found a short section of basement wall where water is still seeping in, and the sump pump continues to do its thing, god bless it.

Tomorrow, our plan is to rip off damaged wallboard before mould sets in. It already smells musty down there.

I'd like to say things in the area are getting back to normal, but they aren't quiet yet. The area's still a long way from normal. Tonight, you could finally drive east out of Canmore to Calgary, and west out of Canmore to Banff and beyond. But you can only drive away, not into Canmore. The Town of Canmore's under a boil water order. 45+ homes in Canmore along Cougar Creek have been condemned. At 9 PM, they finally allowed folks to move back to the Cougar Creek area. Hundreds are still isolated in Exshaw, and 60% of the houses in that town have been condemned. DMF is still evacuated.

Time. And no rain. Only then will we be back to normal.