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Cost of Langley Township flood damage remains unknown

It will take weeks of assessment even to determine how much damage was done
Langley Township crews are building a temporary wall out of concrete blocks on 264th Street near Glen Valley, at a site where a landslide blocked the road during last week’s rains. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)

It will be weeks before the full impacts of the flooding around Langley Township is known, according to senior staffers and elected officials.

“We’re still in the response phase of the event,” Mayor Jack Froese said Monday, Nov. 22, during an afternoon council meeting almost a week after the rain finally eased up.

Froese said that on Sunday, Nov. 14 and Monday, Nov. 15, between 160 and 173 mm of rain fell across Langley Township. More than 90 municipal locations were shut down, including dozens of roads, along with trails and parks. Township firefighters responded to 74 calls, compared to an average day of 20 to 30.

One of the last remaining closed roads was re-opened on Monday, Nov. 22, according to Aaron Ruhl, manager of engineering operations for the Township.

A small bridge in the 23600 block of 64th Avenue had been closed for a week because the river had scoured out supporting material behind one bridge abutment. Repairs were completed by Monday and the bridge could open again, Ruhl said.

Another remaining closure is still being repaired, on 264th Street at a steep slope into Glen Valley, near the Pagoda Ridge golf course.

Mud ran across the road when the upper bank slumped during the downpour. A house downslope from the slide has been evacuated for safety reasons, and the owners will be able to return once the temporary wall is built, Ruhl said.

It was a busy few days for Township engineering and operations staff, Township firefighters, and local RCMP, Ruhl said.

“If you worked for the Township, you were probably part of this,” he said.

He said the crews were great, and worked some long hours responding to the flooding.

Ruhl has been with the Township for over a decade, and after speaking to some veterans of the municipal service who have been here 30 or more years, he said no one has ever seen a flooding event like this in Langley before.

Ruhl said staff were monitoring the situation over the weekend before the atmospheric river hit, and by Monday morning they had decided to open an emergency operations centre.

While the rain largely stopped mid-day Monday, and some areas saw it recede, parts of the Salmon River saw their highest water levels on Tuesday, as the large drainage area continued to pour water into the river, which leads north into the Fraser River just west of the village of Fort Langley.

The pump station on the Salmon River held up well and wasn’t damaged, Ruhl said, although floating hay bales were an issue.

Local citizens helped out, clearing out some catch basins and drains, and most importantly by reporting major issues, Ruhl said.

In fact, he said the Township is still relying on residents to report damage and problems.

It will take weeks just to assess all the damage. The total bill for all the damage won’t be known until the assessments are complete, but for comparison, a storm in January 2020 did about $5.5 million to roads and culverts.

READ MORE: Storm damaged roads in Langley could cost millions

During that event, there was about 130 mm of rain over North Langley over a 72 hour period. A significant amount of the cost was paid by provincial disaster relief funding.

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Matthew Claxton

About the Author: Matthew Claxton

Raised in Langley, as a journalist today I focus on local politics, crime and homelessness.
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