'Already catastrophic': Southern B.C. might be hit by more flooding
Ben Cousins, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Monday, May 14, 2018 4:29AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, May 14, 2018 5:43PM EDT
Parts of southern British Columbia are bracing for even more flooding after record water levels hit the area last week.
Consecutive days of heavy rain in the area produced what local officials say was the worst flooding in 70 years. Over the weekend, residents of Grand Forks, B.C., the town hit hardest by flooding, were given a bit of a reprieve as water levels dropped in the three nearby rivers. But above average temperatures this week are expected to melt the snow pack on the mountain peaks and could bring another surge of flooding to the region.
“The highest snow pack is melting very quickly,” Dan Derby, fire chief for the Kootenay Boundary Regional Fire Rescue, told CTV News Channel on Monday. “The rivers are rising steadily and we’re very concerned about a further impact to a situation that’s already catastrophic.”
Thus far, about 3,000 residents have been forced out of their homes and more than 1,100 households have registered with the Canadian Red Cross.
The public is being warned to avoid the evacuation zones due to serious safety concerns and evacuees have been told they shouldn’t return home until at least the end of the week.
“It’s literally going to take years to recover from this,” Derby told CTV Vancouver. “For some, it’ll have an impact on them for the rest of their life.”
Grand Forks residents spent much of the day Monday piling thousands of sandbags in the area to hopefully limit the damage from what is to come.
“We’re preparing for the worst-case, because we saw what happened last week,” Derby said. “A day like yesterday, where it was mid-30 degrees (Celsius) here in Grand Forks…is absolutely the perfect storm and worse-case scenario for us right now.”
In bracing for what may be to come, several residents are already gathering their belongings and heading for safety.
“We’re already packed,” said Margie MacLean, who’s leaving her home for a second time in a week. “I can't stand the stress. They say it could happen tonight, tomorrow, some people are saying not until Friday.”
The Salvation Army has dispatched a pair of emergency response units to the area. The units will provide meals and drinks to the people of Grand Forks.
On top of the rising temperature and melting snow, officials also worry rain might compound the problem. The forecast for Grand Forks calls for a 60 per cent chance of rain between Wednesday and Thursday night, according to Environment Canada.
“The hot temperatures mixed with precipitation is really going to bring that snow pack down,” said Julia Butler, a councillor in Grand Forks.
Local governments have issued more than two dozen states of emergency. Butler said the Grand Forks community is looking for additional emergency funding from both the provincial and federal governments.
“The amount of damage that’s been done here, the cost is in the millions and this town cannot afford that,” said Butler. “We definitely need outside help.”
British Columbia Premier John Horgan called the past week a "one-in-one-hundred-years" flooding season. The provincial government is currently reviewing its options on how to further support the impacted communities.
About 125 kilometres west of Grand Forks, Osoyoos, B.C. has also been struggling to keep the flood waters at bay. The town is also expecting more flooding later this week.
Officials have already evacuated between 60 and 80 households in the region, along with both hotels.
With a report from CTV News Vancouver Bureau Chief Melanie Nagy, CTV Vancouver’s Sarah MacDonald and with files from The Canadian Press
The Kettle River flooded into Grand Forks, B.C. forcing people in low-lying areas to evacuate. We’re on the ground helping flood-impacted residents. Residents can register at reception centres in Grand Forks or Midway. #BCFlood #BCFloods2018 #freshet2018 #GrandForks #GrandForksBC pic.twitter.com/PqTC5x7qj2— Canadian Red Cross (@redcrosscanada) May 14, 2018
It's all hands on deck here in Grand Forks! We've spoken to students who are going to school late today: they've come with their parents to help fill sandbags instead. Thousands of bags will be filled today as the region braces for more flooding in the coming days. #BCFloods2018 pic.twitter.com/1qVyyq0RVT— Sarah MacDonald (@CTVSarah) May 14, 2018
Good morning from Grand Forks, where residents are bracing for more flooding in the coming days. Waters have receded, but are expected to rise again in the next 48 hours. Some 3,000 people are still out of their homes. We'll have full details on @CTVMorningLive and @CTVVancouver. pic.twitter.com/j4JsaLeLRZ— Sarah MacDonald (@CTVSarah) May 14, 2018