Dike breach repaired in Abbotsford after BC’s record floods

Floods cover part of Highway 1 on November 20 in Abbotsford, BC. The province declared a state of emergency after record-breaking rainfall that has resulted in extensive flooding of farms, landslides and evacuation of residents.Justin Sullivan / Getty Images

A major breach in Abbotsford’s Sumas Dike was repaired this weekend, stopping the flow of water from the Sumas River into the bottom of the Prairie Lake and alleviating some concerns of further destruction following last week’s record floods in BC.

Combined with that, the level of the Fraser River drops enough to open the locks all the way to the city’s Barrowtown water pumping station, so the water level drops by three inches in six hours in the eastern part of the water-filled Sumas Prairie region on Sunday, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said. .

The extreme weather that started on 14 Nov. affected large parts of southern British Columbia and forced about 17,000 people from their homes.

But Mr Braun is watching the rain in the weather forecast.

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“As you all know, the situation here is still fluid, and a key component in how well we are able to keep things in a positive direction is directly related to how much our weather continues to cooperate,” he said at a press conference on Sunday.

“It looks like we’ll get between 80 and 100 millimeters of water over the next four days. If it’s spread out over four days and the water does not come back across the border, I think I’m optimistic that the system is currently working as it should. So we cross our fingers. Now, if 100 millimeters came in 24 hours, that’s a problem. “

Mr. Braun said the city is in the process of receiving more detailed weather forecasts from Environment Canada so it can best prepare for the coming days. Meanwhile, Mayor Abbotsford’s local state of emergency extended by one more week until 29 November.

A massive effort has been mobilized across the southern BC. to repair the damage caused by the floods. By the end of Sunday, more than 500 Canadian armed forces were on the ground in BC, helping with floods, according to Secretary of Defense Anita Anand. Troops have spent the past few days evacuating stranded motorists, conducting damage assessments, rescuing livestock, protecting critical infrastructure and preparing for expected rainfall.

Throughout the weekend, they also worked with members of Canada Task Force 1, a search and rescue team and the City of Abbotsford to conduct structural safety assessments in washed-out areas, identify unsafe conditions and hazardous materials in the wake of last week’s destruction.

Members of the Canadian forces arrive with a front loader to help move about 30,000 chickens to a farm in Abbotsford on 20 November.JONATHAN HAYWARD / The Canadian Press

Mr. Braun said much work still needs to be completed to reinforce the city’s dikes, including building the newly repaired section by about three meters. The work of repairing another minor dike breach has also just begun.

On Saturday, the RCMP and BC Coroners Service confirmed that the bodies of three men had been found after a mudslide on Highway 99 – known as Duffey Lake Road, near Lillooet – in addition to the body of a woman located earlier in the week. A fifth person who was reported missing has not been found.

Among the dead is Steven Taylor, a husband, father and rugby player who recently moved from Calgary to Vancouver. In a fundraising site created by his “many rugby brother from another mother”, Dean Hopkins wrote that Mr. Taylor “touched the hearts of many of us during his long rugby career. Always ready to guide other teammates in becoming the best player they could be. He always gave so much and never expected anything in return.”

People close to Anita and Mirsad Hadzic have also identified them as among the dead. According to one fundraising site launched for the couple, the two were on their way home from a weekend stay at a resort in Vernon when they were caught in the mudslide. They leave behind a two-year-old daughter.

Flor Gil Pinzon, a friend who set up the fundraising site, said the two were wonderful parents who were kind, hardworking and loved by many.

“Anita and Mirsad were boyfriends in high school,” she wrote. “I remember she told me they could not stand being separated, and now they are together forever.”

The RCMP said on Saturday that the search for the fifth missing person was hampered by the weather and the conditions of the place and has since been suspended.

“All current search efforts have been exhausted and discussions are underway on how and when, best to proceed,” police said in a statement.

Over the weekend, Environment Canada warned of strong winds, heavy rain and freezing temperatures associated with one atmospheric river in the North Coast. The weather system – composed of a long, narrow band of water vapor that travels through the air and can carry as much moisture as some of the world’s largest rivers – was responsible for the extreme weather event earlier this month, which dumped a month’s worth of rain in two days .

Environment Canada said the potential the impact included floods and landslides in communities such as Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert and Kitimat through Monday. The system is then expected to move south, in a weakened state, to BC’s already flood-ravaged areas.

Several highways that had been interrupted by the flood have reopened in a limited capacity for necessary travel. However, much of the highway system remains paralyzed, raising fears of supply chain disruptions. In response, BC’s Secretary of Public Safety Mike Farnworth on Friday placed two orders under the powers of the Emergency Program Act.

People are forbidden to buy more than 30 liters of petrol a trip to the petrol station and to resell it until at least 1 December. It also excludes gas stations and wholesale distributors from pricing. The second order prohibits unnecessary travel along heavily affected highways.

On Sunday, Federal Emergency Management Minister Bill Blair said said British Colombians who were to enter the United States for important goods such as food and fuel would be exempted from having to present a negative COVID-19 PCR test upon their return to Canada. This does not apply to non-essential activities such as tourism or family visits.

Members of the Canadian forces fill sandbags in Chawathil First Nation near Hope on November 21.JONATHAN HAYWARD / The Canadian Press

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