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A combination of heavy rain and the clearcutting of lands for a road and condominium development adjacent to their properties have caused what Hibberd Lane residents describe as muddy flooding, the likes of which they’ve never seen before.
“My backyard has been flooded incessantly for the past two weeks. I never had problems like this before,” said John Tuttle.
He said he’s had to deal with up to six inches of water in his basement and, while the Town has been out to speak to him about the issue and representatives for the developer have assured him that his property would be looked after, it could’ve been avoided.
“I mean they’ve stripped all the organic, they’ve stripped all of the trees, they’ve stripped everything so all we’re getting is just a torrential mudslide,” he said on Thursday, July 15.
Tuttle did give credit to the Town as well as the developer for responding quickly. “They have responded in a timely fashion. They have come to the table with a plan to fix this problem… but at the same time, this could’ve all been avoided if they would’ve put the proper drainage in place ahead of time. I get that we’ve had a lot of rain and that’s what everybody is going to say… but you have to plan for that hundred-year storm,” he said. “They came and clear-cut this in March and we’ve had nothing but water problems ever since.”
Tuttle said he loves Huntsville but it’s starting to lose its charm. “Everywhere you look forests are coming down… the town’s being swallowed up by development and I get it needs to happen, I get that, but this is more than I ever expected… All I need them to do is solve this problem.”
Mandy Bailey also lives on Hibberd Lane and said the flooding has been bad. “There used to be a big hill behind us, so they’ve leveled out the hill and now there’s nothing protecting us. We’re on a downhill and then [the water goes]down into the ravine and through everybody’s houses and properties,” she said.
“We’ve had rain before, I mean downtown Huntsville was flooded a couple of years before, so I can’t attribute this to excessive rain. I’ve never seen mud like this before… this can really affect a lot of things,” said Bailey, adding that she’s concerned for her dug well “because our well is in the backyard, and everything is just flushed over it.”
Cheyenne Wood lives in the area, too. She said the backlands were once covered in trees which prevented erosion and helped absorb water and since the lands were cleared it has caused mud and water to come down onto all of their properties and wash away part of the lane which the residents maintain.
Huntsville Mayor Karin Terziano said municipal staff have confirmed that “the washout is coming from Devonleigh Homes and it was on account of the amount of rain that we’ve had and that they don’t have their stormwater management system built yet, so Devonleigh are well aware of it. They’ve met onsite with the homeowners, and they are absolutely going to make everything right.” Terziano added that the Town’s engineer is working with the developer’s engineer to see what they can do to mitigate any further damage if the area gets more rain before the stormwater system is in place.
The developer, Andrew Kidd, said they have been focused on trying to mitigate runoff. “You can appreciate until the site is developed and until, you know, such things as storm sewers are fully constructed… there’s kind of an in-between period where you have to manage these sort of things and we’ve been doing exactly that,” he said, adding that with the excessive rain that the area has had, it’s been a challenge but they’re “laser-focused” on mitigating the situation to get it under control.
“There’s an existing storm pond for the development already there and it’s sized for the development and so it’s just a matter of diverting and making sure we have check dams in place. Just on the topography of that land, there’s no question that Hibberd Lane is on the low side, so I would imagine that whether that property was developed or not when you consider the amount of unbelievable, excessive, aggressive rain that we’ve had… I mean there’s flooding all over Muskoka,” he said, adding, “we are not going anywhere, we are working to get this under control. It’s hard to do… you think you have it under control and then you get a flash flood where you get two inches of rain in an hour.”
In terms of damage to properties, he said “those are issues that we’ll work through on an individual basis.”
You can find more about the development here.
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