Troops arrive in B.C. to assist flooded communities
Will help with evacuations, sandbagging and property protection; more rain expected
GRAND FORKS, B.C. — The first wave of 140 Canadian troops is arriving in British Columbia to help communities overwhelmed by flood waters.
The Canadian Armed Forces said that staff from Joint Task Force Pacific and personnel from the 3rd Canadian Division based in Edmonton will arrive Thursday at a staging area in Vernon.
From there, troops are expected to be deployed to areas such as Grand Forks, where officials in the southern Interior city say a second round of flooding is imminent.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale said in a news release that members of the armed forces will help with evacuations, sandbagging and property protection.
“I strongly encourage affected residents to follow the directions and advice of law enforcement and first responders,” Goodale said.
Initial reconnaissance personnel have also been sent to Victoria to co-ordinate with provincial officials on the deployment of additional vehicles, equipment, and personnel.
Soaring temperatures over the last week caused rapid melting of extremely heavy snowpacks, swelling many rivers in B.C. to flood stage and prompting evacuation orders or alerts affecting more than 2,000 properties.
Environment Canada issued special weather statements Thursday covering the entire southeastern corner of B.C., including the flood-damaged Boundary region, warning of thunderstorms that will add more water to local waterways.
Forecasters predict as much as 40 millimetres of rain by Friday and there’s concern about added
damage caused by heavy downpours during localized storms.
A news release from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said properties along the banks of the surging Kettle River are at risk and more evacuation orders are possible.
School District 51, which operates eight elementary schools, two secondary schools and a development centre in the
Boundary region, closed all schools Thursday because of the potential for imminent flooding.
A state of local emergency was in effect across the entire neighbouring Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen which posted on its website that provincial agencies are closely monitoring the levels of Osoyoos Lake and preparing for evacuation orders if required.
Resident Lars Androsoff carries his friend’s guitars as he walks through the flood waters in Grand Forks, B.C., on Thursday.