Thunder Bay

City supplies portable toilets, Salvation Army offers food

Posted: May 29, 2012
Last Updated: May 30, 2012

Hundreds of homeowners have been affected by sewage backup in their basements. They have been pumping out their basements steadily for at least the last 24 hours. (CBC)

More help is coming for people in Thunder Bay’s east end in the wake of Monday’s flooding. Major Marv Halvorsen with Salvation Army, said the organization will help feed people in the neighbourhood.

“The mobile soup van will begin mobile serving in the east end,” Halvorsen said. “If you and your family would like some food come out to the soup van. Then at 6 p.m. we will have another mobile serving.”

Thunder Bay has put portable toilets in place for residents so they can avoid putting strain on the city’s sewage system. (CBC)

There are also 22 portable toilets in place at Cherry Park, which have been provided by the city.

But for those waiting for good news from the city’s sewage treatment plant, they’ll have to wait a bit longer. The pumps are still down.

Manager of operations Darryl Matson said workers are installing extra pumps to help increase the capacity of the plant within the next 24 to 36 hours. The need for water conservation remains in place, however, so the city is still asking people to abstain from flushing toilets, having showers or washing clothes. 

‘Stinky mess’

The road across the Neebing River bridge was closed due to rising flood waters. (CBC)

City manager Tim Commisso said they don’t know exactly how many basements have been impacted in the city, but he said the number was in the hundreds. He noted that the city’s east end has been particularly hard hit.

Martina Smith and her family live in that area on McLaughlin Street. She said the pumps, which have been running for 24 hours, can’t keep up in many homes, including her daughter’s.

“The pump’s been running that long,” Smith said. “They had over four feet of water, sewer backup, whatever you call it. You hear it? It keeps coming. [It’s a] stinky mess.”

Smith said her road smelled on Monday as a result of the sewer water that was being pumped from people’s homes.

Flooding from the Neebing River covers a walkway. (CBC)

Bridge closure

High water levels Monday night forced the city to close the Edward Street bridge over the Neebing River. Police said debris caught under the bridge created unsafe conditions. Hundreds of people were came out to look at the water that burst over the river’s banks.

The city said it will re-evaluate the closure of the bridge later today.

Matson added workers are reassessing some of the road and trail closures in the city, however there is still concern about the high river water levels across the city.

At a news conference held earlier today, the city urged residents to stay clear of flooded areas and to watch their children around rivers.

Press release from City of Thunder Bay

Update on City Flood Emergency: Residents Reminded of Ongoing Risk as Focus Shifts to Assessment

As flooding starts to recede, residents are reminded of ongoing risk and the City is changing focus today to assessment of damaged infrastructure followed by repairs.

“Although the damaging rain and flooding came on quickly and suddenly, the full recovery will take time – days and even weeks,” said Mayor Keith Hobbs.

“The sun is shining today but the water levels, particularly the Neebing River, remain high.  It’s not business as usual – people should take extreme care,” said Police Chief J.P. Levesque.  “Everyone needs to put safety first.”

Today the City will assess the Edward Street Bridge, roads and trails that were closed Monday and notice will be given when they re-open.

The City, through a temporary pumping station, is processing just over half the typical amount of sewage through the Atlantic Avenue Secondary Sewage Treatment Plant and steps will be taken over the next 24 hours to increase pumping capacity.   The Declaration of Emergency will remain in place until further notice.

Water levels remain high.  Residents are reminded to exercise caution when travelling in the area of waterways.  The Lakehead Region Conservation Authority will issue further details this morning.  

The following facilities remain closed until further notice: the Canada Games Complex, Churchill and Volunteer Pools, the 55 Plus Centre and the West Thunder Community Centre.

Residents and businesses are reminded to minimize the amount of water that is flushed or released down the drain, where possible, until further notice. City tap water is safe to drink [However, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit recommends those on private well water should bring the well water to a rolling boil for one minute before consumption].

As the East End was particularly hard hit by flooding, City crews installed portable toilets in Charry Park at Pacific and McBain by the Emergency Command Post and the Salvation Army will be in the area providing food and water starting at 11 a.m. for lunch and 6 p.m. for dinner.  

The short-term reception centre is in place at the Neebing Arena. By end of day on Monday, two persons attended the centre to ask for information and no persons made use of the available transportation from the staging area at the Slovak Legion, 801 Atlantic Avenue. The reception centre will remain available, if required, and residents are encouraged to call 211 for more information.

Important contact numbers:

  • Thunder Bay Hydro – 343-1111 or after hours 343-1002 – for electrical problems or concerns
  • Infrastructure & Operations – 625-2195 – to report flooding or for questions or concerns about City roads and other City infrastructure
  • Ministry of Transportation – 511 – for information about provincially-owned highways
  • 211 for general information and details on reception centre
  • 911 should only be called if there is an emergency