Summer severely dampened by extensive flood damage

To the editor, Mayor June Caul and Mayor Harley Droba,

I was born and raised in Fort Frances and return every summer to the family cabin that my Mom and Dad built in 1952. I am in my eighth decade of travelling on and enjoying Rainy Lake.

When I return yearly, my two brothers and I usually relish the clean up of natural events such as windfalls and the results of high water caused by nature’s variations. This year was different with the massive flooding that was caused, in my opinion, by the intransigence of the International Joint Commission. According to the mandates and mission statement of the Rainy Lake Convention of 1938 the IJC’s duties are to monitor the water levels of Namakan and Rainy Lakes, to determine when emergency conditions exist and to adopt measures of control at Kettle Falls and the dam between our two towns. I feel the inactions and very late reactions of the IJC to the massive flooding caused by near record snow packs indicates an abdication of their responsibilities. It does not take a genius to realize that record snow packs still melt every summer in the border lakes. The anticipated water levels from the melting has long been calculated over the last century. When massive flooding is clearly indicated the flood gates at Kettle Falls and in the towns must be opened and the water drawn down long before the flooding begins and the water levels brought below the “curve”.

The abandonment of the responsibilities has caused millions of dollars of damage to the properties of my Canadian and American friends without apparent recourse.

Personally, a breakwater and docks that have withstood ice out on Rainy Lake for over six decades, were washed away and their timbers strewn high into the bush. Three lakeside cabins were flooded from two to five feet deep. A 12’X20′ sauna/sleeping cabin that I built over four decades ago was supported by bed rock on two sides and massive cribbing on two sides. This cabin was partially awash and its cribbing destroyed by the waves resulting in the exposed wall being destroyed, one corner 1.5 feet lower than usual and substantial structural damage due to the twisting in the waves. It took three full days of in-water work to jack the structure up and reestablish support for the building before repairs could even be considered. This year’s vacation was spent repairing the most important damage and clean up of this man-made disaster. I assume that most recreational property owners have had to complete necessary repairs on their vacation times and weekends. I urge the mayors to set a joint panel to work toward getting the IJC members responsible for the Rainy and Namakan Lake debacle removed from their positions and be replaced with some experienced local residents who understand that snow melts and raises the water levels. I will be back again next year and hopefully enjoy the fishing and swimming.

Respectfully yours,
Dr Joe Zucchiatti
Delta, BC