FORCES AR­RIVE AS B.C. IN­TE­RIOR BRACES FOR MORE FLOOD­ING

1,500 prop­er­ties are un­der an evac­u­a­tion or­der

National Post (National Edition) - - NEWS -

GRAND FORKS, B.C. • The first wave of 140 Cana­dian troops is set to help B.C. com­mu­ni­ties over­whelmed by flood­wa­ters.

Staff from Joint Task Force Pa­cific and per­son­nel from the 3rd Cana­dian Divi­sion based in Ed­mon­ton are ex­pected to be de­ployed to ar­eas such as Grand Forks in the south­ern In­te­rior, where 1,500 prop­er­ties are un­der an evac­u­a­tion or­der and a sec­ond round of high wa­ter is im­mi­nent.

In the nearby sub­di­vi­sion of Ruckle, Celinda Gal­loway was told to leave her home, but she and her hus­band Ryan, along with about 20 other res­i­dents, are de­fy­ing the or­der in an ef­fort to save their homes.

“We’re try­ing to pro­tect our homes, the ones that aren’t com­pro­mised, and we’re do­ing it in a safe man­ner,” Gal­loway said. “Ob­vi­ously they want us out,” but “our homes are sal­vage­able.”

Gal­loway said she and her hus­band built a berm of dirt and sand­bags to pro­tect their home from rising flood­wa­ters, adding they’ve had some mud and wa­ter seep into their base­ment, but dam­age has oth­er­wise been min­i­mal. “If we left, no­body would have pumped our base­ment out.”

Soar­ing tem­per­a­tures over the last week caused rapid melt­ing of ex­tremely heavy snow­packs, swelling many rivers in B.C. to flood stage. An es­ti­mated 4,500 peo­ple have been forced from their homes, and fore­casts are calling for emerg­ing flood risk for com­mu­ni­ties along the lower Fraser River, from Hope to Van­cou­ver.

Fed­eral Emer­gency Pre­pared­ness Min­is­ter Ralph Goodale said mem­bers of the armed forces will help with evac­u­a­tions, sand­bag­ging and prop­erty pro­tec­tion.

B.C. Pub­lic Safety Min­is­ter Mike Farn­worth said the gov­ern­ment asked for help and is happy to have the troops.

“They will be de­ployed to the ar­eas of great­est need. Ob­vi­ously the south­ern In­te­rior, Grand Forks for ex­am­ple, is a key com­mu­nity. Their job will be to as­sist in the lo­cal efforts, in terms of such things as pro­tect­ing im­por­tant in­fra­struc­ture, as­sist­ing in evac­u­a­tions, sand­bags, things of that na­ture.”

En­vi­ron­ment Canada is­sued spe­cial weather state­ments Thurs­day cov­er­ing the en­tire south­east­ern cor­ner of B.C., in­clud­ing the flood­dam­aged Boundary re­gion, warn­ing of thun­der­storms that are ex­pected to add more wa­ter to lo­cal wa­ter­ways.

Fore­cast­ers pre­dict as much as 40 mil­lime­tres of rain by Fri­day and there’s con­cern about added dam­age from heavy down­pours.

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.

“Last week, the Granby sta­tion picked up 52 mil­lime­tres of rain that was not in the fore­cast,” said Frances Maika, a spokes­woman at the dis­trict. “Some­times you can get these iso­lated show­ers, and if we get that, the river fore­cast model com­pletely changes.”

Flood­wa­ters could sur­pass lev­els from the first round of flood­ing, she said.

Maika said she un­der­stands res­i­dents’ frus­tra­tion but safety is the pri­or­ity.

“It’s a low el­e­va­tion area that was at def­i­nite risk of harm com­ing to peo­ple who re­mained there,” she said of the Ruckle neigh­bour­hood.

The Re­gional Dis­trict of Koote­nay Boundary gave res­i­dents a 12-hour win­dow to re­turn to their homes to pick up any valu­ables.

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 more 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.

In the Re­gional Dis­trict of Cen­tral Koote­nay, east of Grand Forks, evac­u­a­tion alerts were ex­panded along Erie Creek and the Salmo River, while fire­fight­ers from across the dis­trict were sent to the vil­lage of Salmo to help with sand­bag­ging in an­tic­i­pa­tion of flood­ing there.

The Sal­va­tion Army said it was send­ing teams to sup­port evac­uees, vol­un­teers and first re­spon­ders across the prov­ince.

A Sal­va­tion Army Com­mu­nity Re­sponse Unit has been de­ployed to help feed and re­lieve those af­fected by the floods, and a team is in Ver­non pro­vid­ing re­fresh­ments and snacks to fire­fight­ers pre­par­ing sand­bags, the char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion said Thurs­day.

B.C. Premier John Horgan said the prov­ince will match Cana­dian Red Cross donations up to $20 mil­lion, for those most harmed by the flood­ing.

JONATHAN HAY­WARD / THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Res­i­dent Lars An­drosoff car­ries his friend’s gui­tars as he makes his way through flood­wa­ters Thurs­day in Grand Forks. As much as 40 mm of rain is ex­pected by Fri­day.

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