Provincial officials to provide update as flood-ravaged southern B.C. faces brunt of fresh storms

abbotsford huntingdon village sandbagging

A new evacuation order has been issued in southern British Columbia as another atmospheric river drenches the province, worsening the impacts of widespread floods and mudslides.

Rain will continue to fall until Sunday afternoon, according to Environment Canada, which issued a rainfall warning for most of southwest B.C. Up to 120 millimetres of rain is expected in the region.

The new evacuation order was issued for the Huntingdon Village area of Abbotsford, southeast of Metro Vancouver, in the Fraser Valley.

The order was issued at 3:15 a.m. PT. It covers residents within the following boundaries:

  • Sumas Way to the west.

  • A Street and 2nd Avenue to the east.

  • Farmer Road to the north.

  • The U.S. border to the south.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said on Sunday that floodwaters from across the border in Washington state entered the area, made up of rainfall and snowmelt from nearby Mount Baker.

“All that snow is melting and contributing and adding to the rainfall, which has been heavy all night,” he said.

“There’s nowhere else for this water to go. The land has absorbed it — it’s like a sponge and it’s full.”

Braun said the floodwaters coming into the city were not from the Nooksack River across the border.

There were fears the river could breach its dikes and floodwaters could flow toward the Fraser Valley, but Braun said the city would not know until Sunday afternoon. The river was expected to reach a “moderate flood” stage then, based on a Saturday forecast.

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces help with sandbagging operations in the Huntingdon Village area of Abbotsford, B.C. The area was evacuated early Sunday morning after heavy rain and snowmelt exacerbated floods in the area. (Janella Hamilton/CBC)

The Fraser Valley region has been under flood watch since Friday, as has most of southwest B.C., including regions of Vancouver Island.

High streamflow advisories were also issued by the River Forecast Centre for the Upper Columbia and East Kootenay regions in the Interior.

Regions in the southern Interior and low-lying areas north of Pemberton, B.C., were placed on evacuation alert on Saturday afternoon as a flood watch was issued for the Similkameen and Tulameen rivers.

Evacuation alerts mean residents must be ready to leave their homes at a moment’s notice. Evacuation orders mean residents should leave immediately.

Another storm incoming

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth and Transportation Minister Rob Fleming are set to provide updates on the flooding emergency at a news conference at 11:30 a.m. PT on Sunday.

CBC News will livestream the conference, with updates expected on highway transport and the constrained supply network.

Though rains from the current storm system are set to end on Sunday, another atmospheric river is set to bring rain to southern B.C. overnight on Monday.

Some areas of the province could receive up to 200 millimetres in total rainfall in the next week, according to meteorologist Matt Di Nicolantonio.

The downpour has led to treacherous driving conditions on the province’s damaged highways.

Three highways — Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon, Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet, and Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton — were pre-emptively closed on Saturday in anticipation of further damage.

nooksack river seen in whatcom county photograph nov 20 2021
The Nooksack River, which flows in Washington state, is expected to be at a ‘moderate flood’ stage on Sunday afternoon. Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said floodwaters currently causing evacuation orders were not from the river. (Whatcom County Government/Twitter)

‘I hope this is not the norm,’ Merritt’s mayor says

The community of Merritt in the province’s Interior still has no functioning sewage or water treatment system after floods two weeks ago.

All of the city’s 7,500 residents were forced to evacuate from their houses after an evacuation order on Nov. 15.

Re-entry to the city is being done on a phased basis. Currently, residents in phases 1 to 3 of the plan can return.

Mayor Linda Brown said the community was bracing for the next storm to arrive on Tuesday, with many of the returning residents under a boil water advisory.

“The vulnerable won’t be back as fast,” she said. “We have homes that people will never come back to.

“We have to look at rapid housing [and] government assisted rapid housing to be able to bring them back to some form of normality.”

upturned car trans canada highway
An overturned car is shown on the Trans-Canada Highway on Sunday after torrential rain impacted driving conditions in southern B.C. (Katie Nicholson/CBC)

The city’s residents were forced to evacuate due to wildfires in the summer and now, just months later, have been evacuated due to floods.

“I hope this is not the norm, and I hope it is not on a regular basis,” Brown said. “Because I don’t think we could survive year after year after year if this was the case.”

Anyone placed under an evacuation order should leave the area immediately.

To find an evacuation centre close to you, visit the Emergency Management B.C. website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

Road conditions can be checked at DriveBC.

Author: desi123 is an online news portal that aims to provide the latest trendy news for Asians living in Asia and around the World.

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