COVID-19 has put a halt to much of what is normally done in the community at the start of the spring, but roads departments are still ensuring they are preparing for the snow to melt.

“Residents in Bancroft District should note increasing high flows through water control structures to keep water levels within targets for this time of year,” The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry say in a statement. “These flows are being managed to mitigate, as much as possible, the impacts from the expected melt and rainfall.”

Hastings Highlands’ Operations Manager Adrian Tomasini says he and his team have spent the last few weeks cleaning out ditches and culvert ends as well as pushing back snowbanks and benching it. “Benching is the process that pushes it towards the ditch line,” he explains. Tomasini says culverts will continue to be monitored because when flows do come it can cause them to freeze up.

Perry Kelly is the Public Works Manager in Bancroft and says they have been working with the MNRF and Bracebridge Generation to make sure they’re ready for what the early part of spring brings.

“We just have to wait and see what the weather will be like in two weeks,” Tomasini adds. Until then, he says we will be getting “favourable” weather in the area.

“Mother Nature is the one that predicts everything that happens,” Kelly says, adding that you can’t how the weather will be two, three or more weeks out.

Sandbags are available for Hastings Highlands residents the Herschel Public Works Yard at 334 Y Road and at the Bangor garage at 35523 Highway 62 in Maple Leaf. For Bancroft residents, call the Public Works Department at 613-332-7060 to be guided through how to get sandbags. In Faraday Township, you need to call the Roads Department office at 613-332-1935.

Tomasini says if there’s a history of flooding near your home, you need to make sure you’re prepared. “It’s better to be prepared than to not be prepared,” he says.

“Every spring, people flood regardless of how the levels are,” Kelly adds.

While the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting many aspects of people’s day-to-day lives, Kelly says he and his Public Works team are taking steps to make sure they plan ahead in case of major flooding.

Tomasini adds that the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t drastically changed how they will respond to potential flooding. “We’re in full operation at the moment,” he says. The team at Hastings Highlands will be having more discussions over the next couple of weeks to ensure they are prepared in the event major flooding does happen and they need to respond.