This week’s Trail Blazers is looking back 24 years to April 1997, when the city experienced its last major flood disaster.
That spring the Gorge Creek culverts – located on the mountainside of West Trail – were filled with debris due to exceptionally heavy rains.
On Sunday, April 20, water spilled anywhere and everywhere it could, mainly along Spokane Street and Ravine Street, as the culvert behind the former RCMP building on Pine Avenue was blocked by portions of the roadbed.
The community rallied, helping to push holes into the culvert, filling sandbags, and setting up an evacuation centre at the high school.
A 21-year old Trail man, Ken Plotnikoff, died the morning of April 20 after collapsing face-down into a foot-deep puddle of water on Cedar Avenue. The Times reported that a passerby pulled him up and firefighters tried to revive him, but he was pronounced dead on arrival at the Trail hospital. (It was later reported that Ken was electrocuted by a submerged electrical cable.)
Clean-up costs were estimated at $1.6 million.
Besides downtown Trail, high water roared through Annable via Trail Creek that year, downing power lines and taking parts of the road, bridges, trees and banks along with it. Fruitvale residents also battled overflowing waterways as Deer Creek and Beaver Creek raged that month.
The following was written on the back page of the Trail Daily Times supplement from April 25, 1997:
Community Spirit Beyond Planned Events
Part of what makes Trail and the surrounding area so special is how our citizens “band together” in good times and in bad.
This was never more evident than during the recent flooding in downtown Trail. The incredible efforts of all involved was just another shining example of determined, dedicated people working cooperatively to achieve a common goal.
The mayor and council of the City of Trail wishes to express their sincere thanks and gratitude to … volunteers; businesses and local industry; churches; the military; service clubs; neighbouring communities; schools; contractors; utility companies and protective services.
That year the mayor was Dieter Bogs. The six city councillors were: Robert Cacchioni, Gordon DeRosa, Gordon Gattafoni, Elizabeth Cytra, Norman Gabana, and Fred Romano.