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First evacuations as flood waters rise in Fraser Valley

A temporary dyke is set up down the middle of Farrell Street to help protect homes from flood waters due to high water levels on the Fraser River in Prince George, B.C., June 8, 2012. Residents in homes on the right side of the street have been given evacuation notices


The City of Abbotsford on Friday issued evacuation orders for 20 homes and declared a local state of emergency for unprotected areas as flood waters continue to rise.

Mid-afternoon, authorities issued the orders to 17 homes in Glen Valley and three in Matsqui Prairie, said Deputy Fire Chief Mike Helmer. Abbotsford also declared a state of local emergency for the two areas, which are not protected by the city dyke system.

Fire Chief Don Beer said in a news release the orders were necessary as rising river levels in the Fraser River are jeopardizing evacuation routes in the areas.

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In Chilliwack's Carey Point area, three homes remain on evacuation order and 29 on evacuation alert. The city will have 24-hour dyke patrols throughout the weekend. Water levels are expected to reach their highest on Sunday, drop slightly mid-week, then rise again next weekend based on forecasted rain levels.

In Enderby, spokesman Barry Gagnon said the city is preparing for the worst.

In response to rapidly rising waters in the nearby Shuswap River, Enderby officials closed some roads to prevent cars from creating additional waves, Mr. Gagnon said. Depending on the weather during the next few days, the situation could get worse, he added.

David Campbell, head of the B.C. River Forecast Centre is predicting a continued rise for another 10 days, due to the weekend's warm and rainy forecast.

"The wet weather is really dominating the response in the river right now," he said.

Mr. Campbell anticipated another surge in water levels at Shuswap Lake, the South Thompson River and the Fraser River at Prince George.

Meanwhile, Enderby's 28-member volunteer fire department is on standby.

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"We're there to help," Chief Kevin Alstad said. "If we need to, we will sandbag." There are some sandbags ready and the city works yard is filled with burlap sacks and sand.

If water levels reach unmanageable heights for local authorities, Emergency Social Services will provide assistance, specialist Dave Scott said. Despite the flood warnings, no mobile support teams have yet been dispatched.

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