Floods are the most costly natural disasters in Fernie in terms of property damage. They usually occur in early June with the combination of a large snowpack and an extended period of warm or rainy weather. Floods have been commonplace to Fernie residents for over a hundred years as the City of Fernie is built on the old riverbed of the Elk River. Flooding occurs when the flow of water exceeds the Elk Rivers dyked channel and flows onto the old riverbed and into the City.
This spring Fernie is looking at the largest snowpack in decades—see the snow pillow data chart below.
With such a large snowpack Fernie residents are hoping for a gradual melt rather than one big release. The dykes serve to protect a few homes however have perpetuated the problem of building on a riverbed as the water has no option but to regain its old path. See the video from 2013’s high water:
Following the 2012 and 2013 floods the Regional District of East Kootenay Area A initiated a proposed Flood Control Service. The RDEK is proposing the Flood Control Service to help fund Area A flood mitigation Projects, along with the operation and maintenance of flood-related works or improvements (such as dikes and berms).
For more information see download the Information Package here: areafloodcontrolinfopackage
Whatever the initiative nothing will be more powerful than nature, lets hope nature is kind to the valley this spring!