Flooding stable overnight in Chilliwack B.C.
Rising floodwaters remained stable last night following a declared a state of local emergency yesterday afternoon in the City of Chilliwack in B.C.'s Fraser Valley.
Chilliwack's mayor, Sharon Gaetz, signed the declaration of State of Location Emergency Order for the Greendale area of the city west of Lickman Road to the Vedder Canal; south to the Vedder Canal; and, north to the Trans Canada Highway.
The process of declaring a State of Emergency allows the province to step in and provide assistance to people who have been displaced by local flooding.
Pounding rains and melting snow have led to numerous mudslides. One swept through a house in Greendale while a family was asleep inside it.
Heather Sye said she almost died.
"I was choking on mud. I couldn't breathe. Like I said, I was literally drowning in the mud. I tried to get out but I kept getting pushed back in."
"It was devastating. Just like a crack of thunder. A big knot in your stomach...what's going on. The house is shaking," said Doug Ware.
The family escaped safely but one of their dogs was buried in the slide.
"We called the fire department but they couldn't get to her or see any sign of her."
The family is now staying at a motel and doesn't know when they will be able to return.
Ongoing high water conditions have made several other houses uninhabitable, the mayor's office said. Twenty to 70 houses are currently experiencing some form of flooding and have had to vacate their homes for health and safety reasons for an undetermined period of time.
Help from the Province
Meanwhile, the provincial government is stepping in to try to help homeowners affected by flooding.
The government says it will extended up to $300,000 in disaster financial relieve to residents who have been flooded out in the Fraser Valley and some communities on Vancouver Island.
"These dollars are available to assist homeowners for damage that is done by specific causes, running water from an overflowing river or creek. But only for damage that is uninsurable. So if there are impacts from snow load or others that are insurable, those are not eligible," said Minister of Public Safety John Van Dongen
In the Fraser Valley
An emergency operations centre has been set up in nearby Abbotsford, where hundreds of residents are on flood watch.
Crews there worked through the night to pile sandbanks around threatened residences and businesses, creating a protective barrier from the growing deluge of rain.
City officials and volunteers tackled the problem on foot, going door-to-door handing out notices to more than 500 people whose homes sit next to the swollen Nooksak River.
The Nooksak is just one of many rivers in the Fraser Valley threatening to spill its banks.
According to the B.C. River Forecast Centre, the Nicomekl River has risen three and a half metres -- nearly 11.5 feet -- since Tuesday night, but continued to slowly to recede on Thursday.
The rapid rise of the river has shut down a stretch of the Fraser Highway. It is expected to reopen sometime Thursday afternoon.
What's coming next
In nearby Abbotsford, a rockslide has shut down a section of the Lower Sumas Mountain.
Heavy rain, combined with the rapidly melting snow, has led to several creeks overflowing in a number of low-lying Fraser Valley communities.
"We've got a list of streets that normally in a heavy rain event, we wouldn't see this much water," said Abbotsford Fire Chief Don Beer.
Up to 20 more millimetres of rain has been forecast for today, adding to fears some waterways could continue to rise throughout the day. There is some good news. The River Forecast Centre now says most rivers have peaked and floods from Washington State's Nooksak River should not cross the border into B.C. south of Abbotsford.
Some highway remain closed around the province due to avalanche risks and slides, including the Coquihalla Highway near Hope, which was cut off yesterday by a mudslide. Other highway closures can be checked here.
Melt causes health warning
The rapid thaw is becoming a health hazard on Vancouver Island, where raw sewage is washing up on beaches near Victoria's eastern shoreline.
Officials say huge volumes of run-off have overwhelmed the sanitation system, and are now pouring out onto shorelines.
Residents are being advised not to scuba dive or go walking on certain beaches below the high tide mark.
With files from The Canadian Press and reports from CTV British Columbia's Michele Brunoro and St. John Alexander.