’50 in 50′ Series: The Flood (1980)


Lower Trent Conservation is celebrating its 50th anniversary! To commemorate this milestone occasion, we have released our ’50 in 50′ historical blog series. This special series features 50 articles highlighting some of the achievements, milestones and events of the past 50 years. We hope you enjoy them!

1980 flood image with headlines text
These were among the headlines in newspapers across the Lower Trent watershed region on the days following intense rainfall (March 1980)

The day was Friday, March 21st, 1980 – a rainfall record was set for a 24-hour period in the month of March. The weather station at CFB Trenton recorded 58mm. The next day, another 6mm fell, adding to the record rainfall for a total of 64mm (close to 2.5 inches) in a 36-hour period.

News paper article on flooding
Local newspaper article (March 1980)

All of this rain fell on frozen ground, which was unable to absorb much of the precipitation, if any at all. In addition to the excessive flows, ice formations and debris intensified the flooding, blocking culverts and other ways for water to move through and out of the area.

Cold Creek ice jams and overflows at Stockdale, ON (1980)
My beautiful picture
Rawdon Creek in Stirling, ON overflows, flooding private and public properties (March 1980)

My beautiful picture

News paper article on Warkworth Flood
Newspaper article from the “Warkworth Journal” (March 27, 1980)
Warkworth_Burley Creek-1980_Slide 3-2
An overflowing Burnley Creek (aka Mill Creek) floods the streets of Warkwork, ON (March 1980)

Local accounts claimed that this was the worst storm to hit Warkworth since that of 1928, which also resulted in a flood. In Frankford alone, approximately 25 houses and businesses were severely damaged by the floodwaters. A flood relief worker reported up to 1½ feet of water rushing between these properties and across the main street and into the Trent River.

Flooding in the streets of downtown Frankford, ON (March 1980)

The damage to property and risk to the well-being of residents created by the 1980 flood reinforced the need for the development of an improved flood contingency plan.

My beautiful picture
Residence surrounded by flood waters on Henry Street in Stirling (March 1980)
Destroyed house
Flood Damage to a residential property in Warkworth, ON (March 1980)

Today, Lower Trent Conservation continues to play an important role in monitoring water levels and potential or occurring flood conditions, and reporting these to the public and local municipalities.

PriceStW_LamtonSt_Gosport_Brighton (4)
Lower Trent Conservation staff member monitoring occurring flood conditions along Lake Ontario in Gosport, southern portion of the Municipality of Brighton, ON (2017)

The 1980 flood provided Lower Trent Conservation with more concrete information about how local watercourses respond under such extreme conditions.

Lower Trent Conservation staff member securing staff gauge used for measuring water levels at the mouth of the Trent River in Trenton, ON

It also prompted municipalities to seek funding for floodplain mapping under the Flood Damage Reduction Program. This accelerated the development of floodplain mapping, which Lower Trent Conservation uses to make decisions about planning and development applications in an attempt to eliminate or reduce the risk to life and property (see 1975 blog for more information about floodplain mapping).


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