A January thaw, coupled with higher than normal tides have resulted in the flooding and closure of the Smith Road in Upper Nappan.
UPPER NAPPAN – Residents along the Smith Road are growing frustrated with the return of the spring floodwaters. Except, this is January and the flood risk was supposed to have been mitigated by a new culvert installed in 2012.
“I’ve been living here since the early 1970s and this is the worst I’ve seen in,” said Ben Griffin, whose house is blocked on both sides by flood waters.
Heavy rain and a rapid snowmelt earlier this week forced officials from the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Department place barricades on the Smith Road after the Nappan River spilled its banks.
Griffin said the problem is with the aboiteau on the Southampton Road in West Amherst. He said it’s no longer effective at allowing water to run off the land, while he suggest siltation in the Nappan River has made the situation worse.
“I really believe they need to dredge that portion of the river. There’s so much silt there, the aboiteau can’t keep up,” Griffin said.
He said water levels are higher now than they were during the rain event earlier this week and the water is approaching Nash’s Corner in Nappan.
Flooding along the Smith Road is nothing new. Several years ago landowners expressed concern with how it was impacting their property. Concerns were raised with a beaver dam on the Nappan River and the ineffectiveness of a culvert on the Smith Road.
In July 2012, a new culvert was installed that helped reduce the flood risk.
Darlene Ripley has been taking photos of the flooding from her residents, showing the water covering the road and surrounding fields. She said it’s not getting any better.
“It’s higher now than it was at the first of the week. I’ve never seen anything like it,” she said. “My husband came home from work last night and said he wouldn’t dare open the doors in his car because the water would rush in.”
Dave Reid, operations supervisor with the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, said the flooding is being caused by an “unusual high runoff” that’s being made worse by higher than normal tides.
“We’re in the middle of moon tides which means the tides are higher than normal anyway,” Reid said. “At the tide cycle returns to normal the situation will get better.”
Reid said as far as he knows the aboiteau in West Amherst is working and he’s not aware of any blockages of obstructions that would slow it down. He said part of the reason for the flooding is the weather.
“We’re having an old-fashioned winter. It’s something we haven’t had in a while,” Reid said. “We had a lot of snow and ice in December and early January and now we’re having our usual January thaw. The difference now is there’s lots of snow and ice to melt. That’s leading to more runoff.”
Cumberland North Liberal MLA Terry Farrell said he is aware of the situation in Nappan and spoke to officials with Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in Halifax on Wednesday.
“It’s not an infrastructure issue. They replaced a culvert there a couple of years ago so that’s not the issue,” Farrell said. “We had a lot of snow followed by a major thaw and tides are particularly high. It’s a combination of all those things.”
Farrell said there are some drainage issues in the area, adding most of the drainage occurs on private land. He said the department does monitor the situation and repairs damage to infrastructure like roads.