The Fraser River is set to break a 40-year record after heavy rainfall that triggered evacuation alerts and a local state of emergency in neighbouring communities.
The river is expected to reach its peak level of 10.3 to 10.8 metres in the upper Fraser River region on Tuesday afternoon, according to the B.C. River Forecast Centre.
“The best way to describe the seriousness is to reflect back on the historical river levels, and the last time we saw a high river level was 1972,” said Chris Bone, a spokeswoman for the City of Prince George.
The record that year was 10.4 metres.
David Campbell, a forecaster for the centre, said the lower Fraser River will likely reach levels similar to 1972 while the upper Fraser River may break the record.
Areas not protected by dykes may see some impact, he said. The water flow is expected to reach 12,000 to 13,000 cubic meters per second through the lower Fraser.
Between 30 and 75 millimetres of rain have fallen in the past three days, according to the centre.
Prince George declared a local state of emergency on Monday and issued evacuation orders for 18 homes on two streets.
The city has also issued a local state of emergency for five roads, which allows officials to issue evacuation orders if needed.
City officials are beefing up temporary dikes, wire-mesh containers about five metres long, one metre deep, and one metre wide, known as gabion baskets, Ms. Bone said.
A reception centre has been opened at city hall.
Joe LeBlanc, an 82-year-old who lives on one of the affected streets, says he’s not worried about the rising waters, vowing on Monday to stay put in the residence he’s occupied for the past 20 years “We’ve never flooded here anyways,” said Mr. LeBlanc, who was informed of the order on Monday afternoon. “I’m not worried about it.”
Meanwhile, Chilliwack issued an evacuation alert for residents living outside the city’s dyke system, meaning they should be prepared to leave on short notice.