B.C. town submerged by worst flood in 70 years, 30 people rescued
Catastrophic floods in parts of southern British Columbia have forced nearly 2,800 from their homes and warm weather expected in the coming days could worsen the problem.
In Grand Forks, B.C., a community about 520 kilometres east of Vancouver, homes are submerged in brown, murky water. The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said fire rescue technicians have rescued more than 30 people by boat in the town.
Two days of intense rain caused the flooding in Grand Forks. It’s the worst the region has seen in 70 years, roughly two feet (0.6 metres) higher than ever recorded.
“I thought we were safe here because we’re higher than the river, but it was like a sneak attack,” said Derek Fillion, who was evacuated as the water began to surround his home.
On Saturday, Fillion was able to visit his home for the first time since he was forced to leave. He trudged through knee-high water to rescue a computer he needed.
“You almost can’t recognize the place from when we moved in,” he told CTV Vancouver.
Residents are being reminded to keep all sand bags in place as unseasonably hot temperatures across southern and central B.C. are expected to melt some of the snow pack and bring an second surge of flooding to the area.
The Salvation Army arrived in Grand Forks on Friday in hopes of providing some reprieve. Ginny Kristensen, a major with the organization, said a reception centre has been established to provide a safe place for displaced residents to sleep.
“There is some fear, with the warm weather. They’re not sure what’s going to happen in the next few days. Is there snow pack going to melt? Are the rivers going to rise again?” Kristensen told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
The general feeling among residents, Kristensen said, is “guarded optimism.”
“It ranges from total despair to almost a guilt where their homes have not been hurt,” she said.
Osoyoos prepares for melt
In Osoyoos, B.C., roughly 125 kilometres west of Grand Forks, Mike Campol, the acting mayor for the town, said between 60 and 80 homes have been evacuated due to flooding. Two hotels in the town have also been impacted.
“We’re doing all we can and making the best of it,” Campol told CTV News Channel. “The majority of people are all hands on deck, helping those who need help. This is typical of Osoyoos.”
“Everyone seems to be getting the help they need from those that are able-bodied and who aren’t affected. Whether it be local businesses, residents, local trades. Everybody’s been helping each other out.”
Campol said sandbags are being delivered around the clock and residents have been helping to place them where they’re needed most.
The worst might be yet to come for Osoyoos as temperatures this week are expected to hit 30 C, meaning snow on the nearby mountains should begin to melt.
“We may not see the effects of that melt until the middle of next week,” said Campol. “So potentially we could see levels rise again by the middle of the week.”
Residents are warned to leave flooded areas, avoid fast-moving waters, and not drive through waterlogged areas.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's David Molko and with files from The Canadian Press