By Kristian Rasmussen
An onslaught of rain wreaked havoc at CastleRock Estates during the past two weeks, eating away at precious load-bearing soil, flooding basements, and sending retaining walls careening over embankments.
The damage began on the evening of June 26th, when the main retaining wall supporting the steep driveway of the development failed after torrential downpour collapsed the wall in two separate places. The massive boulders designed to hold up the earth slope came tumbling down into the ditch alongside Westside Road. The road was not directly affected by the slide.
“That wall was engineered and signed off and approved by the District back in 2004/2005 and was built to the requirements of the design submitted by the engineer,” said Chris Prosser, Chief Administrative Officer for the District of Invermere. “The main cause of the collapse has been the influx of water that we faced Tuesday night. It lies on the district to repair the wall, but we are looking at other options I can’t share right now.”
The District of Invermere has had an engineer look at the wall and is currently performing mitigative measures to make sure the area is safe for motorists.
Although the main road’s retaining wall failed, residential properties in the CastleRock development are not currently a concern for the District of Invermere because all walls in the development were separately engineered, Mr. Prosser said.
“For every single building permit that is up there we have all the retaining walls designed by an engineer as part of the development approvals,” he said. “When a building permit happens we have another geo-technical engineer go in there and do another survey on how the building will stay stable behind a retaining wall.”
CastleRock resident, Bobbi Donahue, is not taking any chances with her property, which was built last year. She lives on a steep embankment in the middle of the development with several levels of retaining walls.
“We are keeping an eye on our new rock walls and are just making sure that there is lots of fill and stuff,” she said.
“There are a lot of parts of the wall where things are kind of settling and stuff like that. There are a few small things that we are worried about.”
Mrs. Donahue’s neighbours up the street lost their decorative rock wall at the rear of their home, which sent dozens of boulders smashing through their backyard and destroying their patio furniture. The couple was not home at the time and were uninjured in the collapse. They did not wish to comment on the incident.
The heavy rain infiltrated the basement of CastleRock homeowner, Les Freadrich.
“We have had our property flooded out twice now,” Mr. Freadrich said. “Each cleanup has cost us $10,000. Instead of coming to relax and take it easy we are busy hauling furniture out, vacuuming, and sucking all the water up.”
Mr. Freadrich came home to his vacation property after June 26th’s heavy rainfall to find an inch of water in his basement.
The weeping tile drainage system that surrounds the Freadrich’s property, designed to divert water away from the home’s foundation, failed due to extreme saturation of groundwater, Mr Freadrich added.
Mr. Freadrich’s wife, Janice, said that the flooding has become a bonding experience.
“My son and daughter-in-law are here to help this week,” she said. “My other daughter and her boyfriend were here the first time it happened. It’s a family affair.”
CastleRock developer, David Behan, could not be reach for comment at press time.