Many communities in the British Columbia Interior are on evacuation alert as they brace for more rain, after a week of record-breaking heat that has led to flooding, mudslides and highway closings.
Approximately 140 properties were under evacuation order and 1,750 properties under evacuation alert on Saturday, according to the provincial government.
Evacuation orders and alerts are in effect in the regional district of Kootenay Boundary and Central Kootenay, the Village of Cache Creek, and the Okanagan Indian Band, said Aimée Harper, a spokesperson for the B.C. Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness.
The province said it has deployed more than 200,000 sandbags to communities including Grand Forks and Cache Creek, which has been hit particularly hard, with water flowing through homes and businesses.
The Ministry of Transportation said it’s staging equipment and materials at key locations and keeping an eye on infrastructure that may need to be reinforced.
Hundreds of residents in British Columbia’s southern and central Interior have been warned they may have to leave quickly if flood waters move in.
Francine Sénécal of the Schulli Resort in Christina Lake, B.C., said the water was rising and overflowing on the property, a lakefront campground, and forced them to close their boat launch. So far, 15 properties have been ordered to evacuate as rainfall continues in Christina Lake, but not theirs yet.
“We’re prepared, we’ve got our sand and our bags in case we need them, but hopefully we won’t,” Ms. Sénécal said.
She said her partner, the resort’s owner, was monitoring water levels, which were lower than the last time they saw major flooding.
“The 2018 flood was the worst, and that one affected us extraordinarily,” Ms. Sénécal recalled. “We’re just crossing our fingers that we won’t get to where we were in 2018 when we had water everywhere.”
Environment Canada meteorologist Ken Dosanjh said “the threat of new flooding, exacerbation of existing flooding, and mudslides are a primary concern.”
Mr. Dosanjh said that starting Saturday night, precipitations would move northward to the central interior of the province and sit over the Cariboo region Sunday, where they are expected to weaken in the afternoon.
Flood warnings remain in effect for Kootenay, Boundary including the Kettle River, Granby River and surrounding tributaries, Whiteman Creek and Lower Thompson including Cache Creek, Deadman River, Criss Creek, Bonaparte River and surrounding areas around Cache Creek and Skeetchestn.
“People living in these regions are urged to remain vigilant and be prepared,” wrote Ms. Harper in an e-mail. She said local governments and First Nations have the most up-to-date information on evacuation alerts orders, and that people are encouraged to visit EmergencyInfoBC.ca for updates.
Climate hazards, including heatwaves and extreme precipitations leading to severe flooding, are projected to intensify across North America, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, an international body of hundreds of climate scientists.
With a report from The Canadian Press.