B.C. flooding updates: Some evacuation orders lifted, many remain amid state of emergency

BARRIE — Devastating flooding, mudslides and strong winds in British Columbia have prompted officials to declare a provincial state of emergency.

Work is continuing around the clock to clean up and recover after the storm, but thousands remain displaced from their homes.

Here’s a look at the latest developments from B.C.

PROVINCIAL STATE OF EMERGENCY

A provincial state of emergency was declared in B.C. on Wednesday.

“The order will preserve basic access to services and supplies for communities across the province,” B.C. Premier John Horgan told a press conference.

Horgan said his government will introduce travel restrictions to ensure essential goods and medical and emergency services are able to reach communities, but he urged residents not to hoard groceries as recovery efforts continue.

“Do the right thing,” he said. “Listen to what your mom told you when you were little: ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’”

Horgan said the federal government has agreed to assist with managing supply chains, and restoring safe drinking water in the province.

On Wednesday, Canada’s Minister of Emergency Preparedness tweeted that Canadian Armed Forces members (CAF) will be deployed to help in B.C.

He said air support personnel will assist with evacuation efforts, support supply chain routes, and protect residents against floods and landslides.

NO CHANGE AT ABBOTSFORD PUMP STATION OVERNIGHT

In the city of Abbotsford, emergency evacuation orders remain for those in the Sumas Prairie as the Barrowtown Pump Station works at maximum capacity.

Officials warned that if the pump station fails, the effects could be “catastrophic.”

Speaking at a press conference on Thursday, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said the pumps are still operating at “full capacity.”

“The floodwaters from the Nooksack River continue to flow northeasterly across the Sumas Prairie,” Braun said. “Water levels continue to rise to the east – east of the prairie.”

He said, though, that there has been “no change” at the station overnight, adding that officials are monitoring conditions closely.

Braun said water is still turned off in the Sumas Prairie area, but that officials were able to locate a break in the main water line, and some additional breaks.

He said crews are “focused” on repairing the breaks as soon as possible.

Braun said he was aware that the federal government has agreed to deploy military personnel to assist, but said he does not have any specific details as to where those members will be deployed.

“We remain in contact with our government partners and as we start to move towards the recovery phase of this emergency… the city is and will continue to work closely with our neighbours, service providers and First Nations to address the ongoing and changing needs of our community,” he said.

According to Braun, the local state of emergency “continues to evolve.”

“We are not out of this by a longshot yet,” Braun told reporters, adding that officials will “keep everyone updated as we can.”

Officials say there are approximately 40 people who are still in the Sumas Prairie area.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the city, evacuation orders have been rescinded.

Late Wednesday evening, the city lifted evacuation alerts for Eagle Mountain Areas, Ten Oaks, Straiton Areas and Matsqui Village. 

MERRITT EVACUATION ORDER CONTINUES

Meanwhile, an evacuation order issued for the city of Merritt on Monday remains in place.

In a statement issued Wednesday, the city’s Mayor Linda Brown said she has “personally spoken” with Premier Horgan and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

“They both expressed their thoughts of mourning, respect for the resiliency of Merrittonians, and commitment that the Province and Federal government stand with the residents of Merritt,” the statement reads.

Brown said the city has their support to address the communities “immediate and long-term needs.”

According to Brown, the city’s emergency operations team is now working to bring residents whose homes were not affected by the flood home, and then will work to allow for the “safe return of residents whose homes were inundated.”

“As soon as we can provide safe water and have toilets flush, we will bring you home,” Brown said.

Crews area also working to assess roads and bridges and home damage across the city.

They are also working to clean up debris.

Brown also said there is a “large contingent of RCMP in the community,” who are are primarily working on rescue operations and towards securing and protecting property.

Also on Wednesday, the Houston Street bridge was re-opened after inspection by an engineer. Though officials said the Main Street bridge remains closed to traffic.

ONE FATALITY, MORE EXPECTED

Officials on Tuesday confirmed one woman has died as a result of the devastating mudslides on Highway 99, south of Lillooet.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, Horgan said more fatalities are expected.

To date, at least three people have been reported missing in the area.

ROAD CLOSURES CONTINUE

In a tweet late Wednesday, the B.C. government said many roads continue to be closed or limited to one-lane traffic.

“Please do not travel unless it is essential,” the post reads.

Officials said crews are working to reopen roads from the lower mainland to the interior and north to “keep people and supply chains moving.”

A list of road closures can be found here

With a file from The Canadian Press

View original article here Source