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Storm blitz floods streets

Dorothy Westerman
Northern News Services

Yellowknife (July 20/05) - Noah would have been right at home on some Yellowknife streets last Thursday when the clouds opened up and in less than 20 minutes dumped enough hail and rain to flood streets throughout Frame Lake South.

Two men canoe across Finlayson Drive during last Thursday's heavy rain. Some residents reported hail the size of marbles. - Dorothy Westerman/NNSL photo

Brian Kelln had just arrived at his Lamoureux Rd. home at about 4:30 p.m. to find his driveway flooded.

"I had about four feet of water at the lowest point in my yard," Kelln said.

Homes next door to Kelln had no water on their properties, only the pea-sized hail.

"Everything was flowing to the storm drain on my property because it is the lowest point in the neighbourhood," Kelln said.

The drains could not keep up and backed up, he said, but by 9:30 that evening, the water had all but disappeared.

"I'm lucky I put up a chain link fence because if it was wooden, it would have been washed away," Kelln said as he surveyed his property from his back step.

Apart from much raking and replanting flowers, Kelln said there was little damage to the property.

"I hauled about five bags of garbage out of my yard," he said.

Canoe on the street

In the 16 years Kelln and his family have lived in the house, he said it is the first time he has ever experienced such a storm.

Jan Vallillee took photos of people canoeing across Finlayson Drive during the height of the storm.

"I've lived here 36 years and have never seen such a hail storm as long as it did," she said in an e-mail.

"Hard to imagine it was bone-dry downtown."

Environment Canada meteorologist Victor Chung said hail accompanying thunderstorms is unusual North of 60.

"We usually see that in the South, but it can happen," Chung said.

On nearby Williams Ave. and Kam Lake Road, Brian Arberry, a construction worker with Pro-Form, said the force of the flood water completely washed out a day's worth of road work.

"We were pouring the cement for the curbs and it washed it all out.

"It took about $10,000 of concrete," from the new road area which leads to the Multiplex, he said.

"The whole parking lot of the Multiplex was under water. It looked like there was a 10-foot river going through it," he said.

The hail, which pelted the construction workers, fell for about 10 minutes and was half the size of a golf ball, he said.

Dennis Althouse, superintendent of public works for the city, said in some areas of town, rainfall amounts were insignificant.

"It seemed to be in Kam Lake and Frame Lake. It moved in at an angle," he said.

"The storm in those areas was more than what our engineering design could handle," he said.

The rain fell so quickly and in such quantity, he said the system could not keep up with the flow, especially since garbage was covering one of the private storm drains on the lot.

"There was nothing we could have done, operations or maintenance-wise, to improve the flow," Althouse said. "It's just that the intensity was a huge factor."

While city works crews were responding to complaints of overflowing drains, he said minutes later, the drains had already emptied.

"All our drains were working properly and as designed, but we can't design for every storm that might happen," Althouse said.

During the aftermath cleanup, Althouse said there were a few minor washouts and a culvert had to be replaced on Deh Cho Boulevard.

"Most of our damage was quite minimal."