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Rainfall eases, flood warning remains Add to ...

As rainfall eased Monday night, eight British Columbia rivers remained under a flood warning following a day of heavy showers that swept over the province's coast.

Water levels were dropping Monday evening and were no longer expected to pose a significant risk, said Bill Kuhnke of the province's River Forecast Centre. The centre was anticipating at least a few hours without rainfall overnight on Vancouver Island, which saw the heaviest rainfall.

"Things are improving," he said. "Within 24 or 48 hours, we should be pretty much back to normal."

The rivers still under a flood warning are the Salmon River, at Sayward; the Oyster River, south of Campbell River; the Tsolum River, in Courtenay; the Englishman River, in Parksville; the Nanaimo River; the Chemainus River; the Cowichan River, and the Koksilah River, at Mill Bay. The "warning" is the highest of three flooding alert levels used by the province, indicating that water levels have topped a river's banks or will do so imminently.

All but the Nanaimo and Cowichan rivers were stable or dropping in water level Monday evening.

The City of Courtenay, located in the Comox valley of Vancouver Island's east coast, was hardest hit by the heavy rainfall, closing roads and parks in the face of the flood threat. At one point more than a dozen roads and bridges were closed, only to be later reopened.

The Courtenay flooding also forced some minor evacuations at an RV park and in homes along Headquarters Road. A total of 54 people were evacuated, and will spend Monday night in local motels as a precaution, city spokesman John Ward said.

"The flows in the Courtenay River have dropped significantly and we are not anticipating any further flooding at this time," he said Monday evening.

Some smaller waterways are still seeing their water levels rise, but the effect isn't expected to be as significant as the rise in Courtenay earlier in the day.

"We're not expecting anywhere near the severity of high river levels in the lower mainland as we had on the island in the past 24 hours here," Mr. Kuhnke said.

The storm knocked out power to several thousand people on the island, the Fraser Valley and B.C. Interior, and brought up to 250 millimetres of rain in 24 hours to parts of Vancouver Island.

The deluge is the result of what Environment Canada calls the Pineapple Express, a flow of moist, sub-tropical air from Hawaii that can cause extreme rain in B.C.

With a report from The Canadian Press

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