How a B.C. city still partly underwater is preparing for the next round of heavy rain
In an update on the ninth day of flood recovery in Abbotsford, B.C., the city's mayor says crews are actively preparing for the next storm.
Henry Braun said city staff are working with consultants to create "extensive modelling" on water levels ahead of an incoming atmospheric river.
The weather phenomenon expected to hit the area later this week is the same type of storm system that left part of Abbotsford underwater for days, though the approaching system is not expected to be as severe.
"What this means is that we are using projections to anticipate water levels and how they will intersect with the status of our dikes," Braun said.
These dikes were built up in a hurry, with help from the military, following flooding that destroyed homes and farms in the Sumas Prairie and led to the drowning of thousands of animals.
The mayor said all work and repairs have been done to ensure the best results possible, should the river that spilled over its banks last week do so again.
"At this time, all of our dikes have been inspected and damage assessed to the best of our ability, as some sections are not visible. There were four main areas that needed repair, and these make up less than one per cent of the entire diking system," he said.
Braun said the repairs were 80 per cent complete as of Tuesday, and that "another five feet of height" would be added before the rain picks up on Thursday.
Once the main breach is repaired, crews will be moved to another area that has partially eroded.
Another concern during the flooding last week was that the Barrowtown Pump Station might be overwhelmed. The station is a "critical piece of infrastructure," the city says, in preventing the flooding of the Sumas Prairie.
The area is located at the site of what was once Sumas Lake. The lake was drained to accommodate farms and homes.
This time around, sandbags are being brought in early to "help fortify" the pump station, the mayor said.
Culverts are being cleared across the city, including in the Sumas Prairie, to help excess water drain away from the area.
Braun spoke the day after part of an evacuation order was downgraded to an alert thanks to receding water levels. The city warned those north of Highway 1 who were allowed to go home still need to be ready to leave again, if the situation changes.
Residents who returned found colour-coded tags on their front doors: green for enter with caution, yellow for restricted access, and red for authorized access only. These placards were stuck on the doors of home and businesses following quick structural assessments, and any property considered unsafe is still not open to owners or tenants, regardless of status of their evacuation order.
The City of Abbotsford has opened a call centre to help residents with questions about their next steps.
General inquiries can be made at 604-864-5688, while those seeking building assessments should call 604-504-4049.
Cleanup kits have been made available at the city's Tradex Convention Centre.
This is a breaking news update. More info to come.
With files from CTV News Vancouver's Regan Hasegawa in Abbotsford