Almost 200 rescued from Abbotsford flooding as large fire breaks out on Sumas Prairie

0
Almost 200 rescued from Abbotsford flooding as large fire breaks out on Sumas Prairie

[ad_1]

THE LATEST:

  • 184 people were rescued from the Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford overnight after the city issued urgent pleas to evacuate the area late Tuesday.
  • 150 volunteers worked to build a dam around a failing pumping station in Abbotsford Tuesday night, reducing the risk of further catastrophic flooding as 300 people remain trapped in Sumas Prairie. 
  • A large fire has broken out at an RV dealership in the evacuation zone in Abbotsford. 
  • Thousands remain evacuated from towns in southern B.C., including Merritt and Princeton.
  • Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth is chairing a cabinet meeting to discuss invoking a state of emergency on Wednesday.
  • The federal government has approved deployment of air force personnel to help B.C. with flood aftermath.
  • For a list of up-to-date flood warnings, visit the River Forecast Centre.
  • For a full list of evacuation orders and alerts, visit Emergency Information B.C.

Rescue efforts are continuing in Abbotsford, B.C., after record-breaking rainfall caused major flooding and several mudslides that left hundreds of people in the Lower Mainland stranded or cut off from essential services.

Abbotsford city officials said in a press conference Wednesday morning that 184 people were rescued from the Sumas Prairie area overnight with support from the local police, fire and search and rescue teams.

Officials say another 300 people remain stranded as of 7:30 a.m. PT, with the water level in the area at that time at approximately 3.5 metres. Higher-than-normal tides are due with a full moon expected Wednesday night. 

Officials urged residents of the low-lying Sumas Prairie area to evacuate on Tuesday night due to the threat of widespread flooding. As of 9 p.m. Tuesday, the city had shut off water in the area.

Also Read:  Grass fire closes Trans-Canada Highway west of Calgary - Calgary

At a news conference Tuesday night, city officials said a pump station was in imminent danger of failing. The Barrowtown Pump Station was the only thing keeping excess water flow from the Fraser River from entering the flooded area and was also in danger of being inundated with flood waters flowing north from the Nooksack River in Washington state. 

A mobile trailer home is pictured underwater after flooding in Abbotsford on Tuesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Following that announcement, 150 staff, volunteers and farmers worked overnight to build a dam to hold back rising waters coming in from across the U.S. border.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said Wednesday morning the dam has bought the city some much-needed time and protection.

He also reported there have been no deaths in the city so far as a result of flooding.

The University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford has cancelled classes for the rest of the week, and schools in Chillwack and Hope are closed Wednesday.

Dealership fire

The Abbotsford Police Department is warning of a large structural fire at an RV dealership in the area of Sumas Mountain Road and North Parallel Road.

As of 7:45 a.m. PT, according to officials, around 100 RVs are on fire out of about 500 on the lot.

Residents who remain in the area are being asked to stay indoors as the dangerous situation is being assessed and the smoke could be toxic.

Smoke billows from a fire in the Sumas Prairie flood zone at a recreational vehicle business at North Parallel Road and Sumas Mountain Road in Abbotsford on Wednesday. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Abbotsford fire Chief Darren Lee said a major concern is the fire’s proximity to a nearby propane filling station and an overhead 500,000 kilovolt power line. 

“If you actually have enough smoke, the power can go to ground through the smoke particulate,” said Lee. 

Evacuees

Thousands of evacuees remain in more than 20 evacuation centres across the province, with the city of Hope, B.C., hosting 1,100 people currently cut off from the Lower Mainland. Officials said they are working to provide an access road to the community.

One fatality was confirmed on Tuesday in a mudslide on Highway 99. Investigators have received reports of at least two other people who are missing.

Highway damage

With river levels dropping and a trend of generally dry weather set to continue until the weekend, provincial officials are beginning to survey the widespread damage from the floods.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said in a media conference on Tuesday that crews had begun work on restoring the province’s highway network, but did not have specific timelines for when crucial arteries would reopen.

Fleming said Highway 3 might be able to reopen by the end of the weekend, but he wouldn’t hint at when the Trans Canada Highway (Highway 1), the Coquihalla (Highway 5), and Highway 99 would reopen.

As of Wednesday morning, Highway 7 west of Agassiz had reopened a single lane open to emergency vehicles only.

Staff are prioritizing Highway 3 to ensure access to the Interior from the Lower Mainland is not cut off.

Work will take longer on Highway 5 (the Coquihalla) and Highway 1 (the Trans Canada Highway), with staff confirming washouts and mudslides on both routes.

Federal assistance

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said there are still “options” for the province’s supply chain at the moment, urging people to be patient.

He is chairing a cabinet meeting on Wednesday looking to declare a provincial state of emergency due to the flooding situation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that he would be willing to provide any support the province needs.

On Wednesday morning, Minister of Emergency Preparedness Bill Blair said the federal government has approved the deployment of air force personnel to help B.C. deal with the aftermath of the floods.

Also Wednesday morning, the Canada Border Services Agency said in a statement that given the current situation in B.C., travellers who must transit through the U.S. to get to their residence in Canada are exempt from the COVID-19 pre-arrival test, the test in Canada and quarantine requirements.

READ MORE:

  • The president of the B.C. Trucking Association is urging people not to panic buy after highway shutdowns led to hoarding in some communities.
  • Experts warn that “rare” flooding events in the Fraser Valley could become more common and more intense as the planet warms. 
  • A hastily constructed dam has reduced risk of catastrophic flooding in Abbotsford while officials deal with a fire burning at a recreational vehicle lot in the city’s evacuation zone.

Anyone placed under evacuation order should leave the area immediately.

To find an evacuation centre close to you, visit the Emergency Management B.C. website.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services online, whether or not they access services at an evacuation centre.

Road conditions can be checked at DriveBC.

[ad_2]

News Source

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here