Abbotsford is preparing for further floods as rain continues to fall

“The floodwaters from the Nooksack River are expected to cross into the western side of Sumas Prairie near Huntington Village tomorrow,” said Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun.

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Residents of Abbotsford’s Huntington Village prepared for new floods, highway officials preventive closed roads and Sumas Praire farmers struggled through a power outage as the latest atmospheric river dumped about 120 millimeters of rain over the region until Sunday morning.

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Word of the potential for new floods came from Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun, who was warned by Whatcom County officials in Washington state that the Nooksack River was expected to reach a “moderate flood stage” sometime Sunday.

However, Whatom officials also told Braun that damage to Nooksack’s course and sediment build-up would make it difficult to predict the extent of flooding that could flow into Abbotsford “in the coming days.”

“Floods from the Nooksack River are expected to cross into the western side of Sumas Prairie near Huntington Village tomorrow,” Braun said in the city’s Saturday briefing.

Huntington Village is still on evacuation, and Braun urged residents to be ready to leave at short notice.

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“Before issuing an evacuation order, we will do our best to give residents as much advance notice as possible,” Braun said. “Residents, however, must still be prepared to leave immediately.”

While Braun was speaking on Saturday, Canadian armed forces completed work on sandbags along the southern railroad line near Huntington Village, which he said was aimed at protecting the village’s facilities so as not to stop flooding that crosses the border into Canada.

“What people should know, because I’ve heard all sorts of advice on (how to deal with) the border,” Braun said, “in order to stop Nooksack, we would have to build an 18-foot dike ( 5.5 meters) high on that border. “

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The mayor met with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Mike Farnworth along with First Nations leaders to talk about the impact floods have had on society and BC agriculture, and their need for continued support.

“I also impressed them with the importance of supporting our critical dike and drainage infrastructure,” Braun said.

“If we are not supported and the Barrowtown pumping station fails, we expect there will be eight feet or more of water across Trans Canada Highway 1 for several months,” Braun said, which could put the critical route out of service in “up to one year. “

“The Canadian Armed Forces has brought us much-needed support, and I asked the Prime Minister to stay in Abbotsford as they are crucial to our sandbag effort and dike inspections with the coming weather events,” Braun said.

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As of Saturday, Braun said repairs to Abbotsford’s dike system near Atkinson Road were 95 per cent complete, and work to raise six to seven kilometers of the structure was 30 per cent complete.

Braun’s Saturday briefing took place when BC Secretary of Transportation and Infrastructure Rob Fleming closed Hwy. 3 between Hope and Princeton and Hwy. 1 in Fraser Canyon, as well as between Popkum and Hope, as a precautionary measure due to increasing flood risk.

Hwy. 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet was closed two hours later at 4pm, with closures to last until ministry officials consider it safe to reopen them.

Besides weather problems, Hwy. 1 between Popkum and Hope is closed, while BC Hydro makes necessary discharges of water from the Jones Lake Reservoir, which is also affected by the heavy rain.

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Ministry officials will reassess conditions Sunday morning and will reopen the roads when it is safe to do so. Drivers can find updates on DriveBC.ca.

Precipitation warnings covered the lower mainland, central coast and parts of Vancouver Island on Saturday, with rain showers beginning as part of the second in a set of three storms predicted for the region.

Environment Canada warned that up to 120 mm of rain could fall in mountainous areas like Squamish on Sunday afternoon, while other regions struggling to recover from the recent floods were also preparing for more rain.

The agency issued a special weather alert covering Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, the Sunshine Coast and parts of Vancouver Island, with rain expected to subside Sunday afternoon but return again early next week.

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The BC River Forecast Center maintained flood guards already in place in large parts of the lower mainland, and the center added new high-current advice for parts of the interior around the Tulameen, Similkameen, Coldwater and Nicola rivers.

– With files from Tiffany Crawford, Postmedia News and The Canadian Press

depenner@postmedia.com

twitter.com/derrickpenner


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