Rising water prompts flood fears in B.C. communities
Published Tuesday, June 19, 2012 11:23AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 19, 2012 11:32AM EDT
Flooding fears have gripped communities along British Columbia's swollen Fraser River, where water levels are expected to hit a 40-year high this week.
Rising waters due to heavy rainfall and melting snow have prompted the B.C. River Forecast Centre to issue a flood warning for Prince George, as well as from Quesnel to Fraser Canyon.
Authorities placed the city of Prince George under a state of emergency Monday and ordered the evacuation of at least 18 residences along the banks of the Fraser.
Forecasters predict the river's water levels could hit between 10.3 and 10.8 metres by Tuesday afternoon. During a 1972 flood, the Fraser peaked at a record-breaking 10.4 metres.
But even if water levels don't surpass the previous record, the potential for massive flooding remains, CTV British Columbia's Brent Shearer noted in an interview with News Channel.
Riverside communities saw significant flooding back in 2007 when levels hit 9.8 metres, he said, pointing out that forecasters are calling for a full metre more than that this time around.
Plans to install temporary diking are underway in Prince George, where residents in the evacuated area are depending on gabion baskets to protect their homes. The baskets, a quick form of diking, are mesh containers that can be filled with sand.
Evacuees have been urged to close windows and doors, shut off gas and electrical applications and prepare emergency bags filled with medication and other necessary items.
Food and shelter is available to those in need, city officials say, and The Prince George City Hall Annex has been turned into a reception centre.
Further south, in Chilliwack, an evacuation alert is in effect for about 200 properties and 43 homes.
Under the alert, the residents aren't explicitly ordered out of their homes, but have been asked to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.
All of the affected properties are outside of the city's diking system. Those who live inside the diking may see water seep through the barrier, city officials have warned.
With files from The Canadian Press