Floodwaters going down, but risks remain: Caul

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer
kkellar@fortfrances.com

Flood conditions around town continue to improve, but the mayor warns that there are still some lingering risks associated with them.

During last night’s meeting of Fort Frances town council, mayor June Caul shared an update on the flood conditions in the area, noting that the town is still technically under a state of emergency.

“While we’re happy to see water levels beginning to recede, a reminder to the public that the town of Fort Frances continues to be under a declared state of emergency, as water levels are still above normal,” Caul said.

“As floodwaters recede and cleanup efforts begin, we thank the public for their patience and understanding as we gradually reopen areas closed due to flooding.”

While parts of the riverfront are still struggling with high water, the levels have dropped enough for a few locations and facilities to reopen to the public. Caul noted that Front Street from Mosher Avenue to Minnie Avenue has reopened to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, as well as the Front Street walking path and bike path, the Front Street fitness equipment located near the Sorting Gap, as well as the Sorting Gap itself.

However, many locations are still closed both to pedestrians and traffic, including Front Street between Williams Avenue to Minnie Avenue, and between Mosher Avenue to Armit Avenue, as well as the Front Street playground and park, the Sorting Gap gas docks, the Hallett and Lookout Tower, the Riverfront boat docks and both Point Park and Seven Oaks. Caul stressed that these closures were to “ensure the safety of the public while clean-up efforts continue to take place.”

Sandbags

Caul also provided a warning regarding the thousands of sandbags that have been prepared and put into use by residents of the town, cautioning the public that the used sandbags must necessarily be considered contaminated waste.

“From April to July 2022, thousands of sandbags were used to protect home and infrastructure,” she said.

“Please be reminded that residents should return used sandbags to the public works yard from 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday to Friday, as the contents of used sandbags are considered contaminated waste, and may contain harmful bacteria or other contaminants.”

There are a number of precautions to take when it comes to dealing with the used sandbags, Caul said, including wearing gloves and eye protection, as well as ensuring the used sand doesn’t contaminate other locations.

“These contaminants can be harmful to human health and the environment, so it is important to keep the following in mind when handling used sandbags,” she said.

“Do not reuse sand from used sandbags in areas where there may be human contact, such as children’s sandboxes, playgrounds or for landscaping purposes, and never dispose of sand from used sandbags in wetlands or along waterways.”

Caul thanked the public for their understanding and patience as the town has worked to deal with the flooding emergency, sharing that the town will make sure the public is kept apprised of any new updates in the future.

“We will ensure the public are updated with any reopenings as cleanup and mitigation efforts take place,” she said.

“We will be continuing to monitor the situation and keep the public informed through 93.1 The Border, the Town of Fort Frances social media pages, and the Fort Frances Times.”