Emergency crews and residents in the flood-ravaged community of Grand Forks, B.C. say they're bracing for a second surge in what officials are calling the worst flood to hit the region in decades.
Kevin McKinnon of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary told The Canadian Press Tuesday that waters are rising in areas already hit by last week's flooding, including the Ruckle neighbourhood along the Granby River.
At least 1,500 properties in the district have been evacuated as rapid snowmelt caused by unseasonably warm weather pushed water levels in the Granby, Kettle and West Kettle rivers to historic highs.
And with rain in the forecast for Wednesday, McKinnon said the region is likely to be hit with "round two" of flooding in the coming days.
Dozens of homes in the community of 4,000 have been badly damaged or completely lost to the catastrophic flooding and a dyke also breached, knocking out power to much of downtown Grand Forks.
For evacuees like Irina Makortoff, that has meant not only losing the place they live, but also their connections to loved ones and the past.
"My husband built this house…and he put all his heart and soul in it," she told CTV News. "I lost my husband a year and a half ago, and now losing this house—it's the last piece of him. It's not just a building."
Makortoff said part of the riverbank in front of her home broke off and was swept away by the floodwaters. Unable to get permission from the municipality to divert the river away from her property using rocks, her beloved home is now at the mercy of the rising waters.
Other residents already living through the devastation of the historic flood were met by police barricades Tuesday when they tried to return to Grand Forks to collect whatever might be left of their homes.
"My cat's in there and now they're telling me I can't back and get her," said evacuee Nicole Petersen. "Yeah, it's very emotional."
But officials say it's simply too dangerous to let people back into areas affected by flooding.
"It can be a life or death situation," said Frances Maika, an information officer for the district's emergency centre.
"At minimum, you are going to lose material goods. At maximum, you could lose your life."
Local businesses have also been forced to close their doors as the sandbags pile up.
"You have a good cry and you get up the next morning and do what you've got to do," said business owner Laurie Federico.
Another 500 homes have been evacuated elsewhere in southern B.C., while 2,600 families remain on evacuation alert.
Over in Osoyoos, where flooding has forced the evacuations of dozens of homes and a lakefront hotel, authorities are also preparing for a second round of floodwaters.
The Similkameen River is expected to push Osoyoos Lake up "as much as several additional feet of water" by the end of the week, according to a town bulletin.
Officials have also issued an evacuation order for a handful of properties in Chilliwack as the Fraser River swells with freshly melted snow.
On Monday, the provincial government announced Disaster Financial Assistance for eligible flood victims, including homeowners, tenants, small business owners and farmers who haven't been able to get insurance to cover their losses.
To register for Disaster Financial Assistance, visit the B.C. government website. People with livestock concerns can contact the Animal Lifeline Emergency Response Team at 250-809-7152.
Additional flooding information is available on the province's website.
With files from CTV Vancouver's Sarah MacDondald and The Canadian Press
A public information meeting on #BCFloods2018 is getting underway in Grand Forks now. Several hundred people have gathered in the high school auditorium. @BCRCMP are also here. pic.twitter.com/6vmRLgdY1j— Sarah MacDonald (@CTVSarah) May 16, 2018
Provincial crews are now installing a tiger dam in downtown Grand Forks in preparation for #BCFloods2018. It's being placed in the hopes of preventing further water damage to local businesses, as waters begin to rise again. pic.twitter.com/U5RHSqXStC— Sarah MacDonald (@CTVSarah) May 15, 2018
Even at higher elevations, houses are sustaining substantial damage in Grand Forks. In the background of this video you can see a home that's partially in the river. The foundation of the house in the foreground is close to collapsing. #BCFloods2018 pic.twitter.com/3xIsqG5bgX— Sarah MacDonald (@CTVSarah) May 15, 2018
.@RDKB_Emergency officials tell me this body of water in Grand Forks has risen 6 inches in the past 12 hours. Police are now enforcing evacuation orders as residents try to get back into their homes, some to rescue their pets. #BCFloods2018 pic.twitter.com/0r6i5Lvagm— Sarah MacDonald (@CTVSarah) May 15, 2018
Good morning from Grand Forks, where officials say the second surge of the historic #BCFloods2018 is already beginning. Water is rising in the areas already hardest hit by last week's flooding. We're on the ground this week with the latest details for @CTVVancouver. pic.twitter.com/WBXyZ1hdda— Sarah MacDonald (@CTVSarah) May 15, 2018