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Non-stop extreme rain brings flooding, mudslides and evacuations to southern B.C.

Drivers potentially trapped after landslide near Agassiz; nearby Abbotsford opens evacuee reception centre

Emergency crews direct traffic through Abbotsford, B.C., after intense flooding closed a number of major highways in southern B.C. on Sunday.

Emergency crews direct traffic through Abbotsford, B.C., after intense flooding closed a number of major highways in southern B.C. on Sunday.

Photo:  (Shane MacKichan)

RCI

UPDATE, Nov. 15, 2021: Relentless rain causing flooding and road closures across B.C. (new window)


Unrelenting, heavy rain led to a number of rock and mudslides in multiple places across southern B.C. on Sunday, trapping drivers in their cars, forcing some people out of their homes and closing multiple major highways across the region. 

In Abbotsford, B.C., more than 100 homes were placed on evacuation alert in a number of different areas across the city, after what officials described as some of the worst flooding the area has seen in more than a decade.

The city said every one of its emergency services is responding, and officials have opened an emergency operations centre for people whose homes flooded Sunday evening.

Meanwhile, officials believed as many as 10 people have been trapped (new window) after a landslide swept across Highway 7 near Agassiz. 

The highly specialized Heavy Urban Search and Rescue Task Force has been deployed to see if the conditions on scene are safe enough to co-ordinate a rescue. One witness said hundreds of cars are stuck on the road between several slides.

Fire crews responding to a mudslide on Highway 7 near Agassiz, B.C., gather at a command post set up at a nearby gas station on Sunday.

Fire crews responding to a mudslide on Highway 7 near Agassiz, B.C., gather at a command post set up at a nearby gas station on Sunday.

Photo:  (Shane MacKichan)

More evacuation orders

Further east in southern B.C., more than 30 homes have been ordered to evacuate west of Princeton as the Tulameen River floods. The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen ordered families living in Electoral Area "H" (new window) to leave their homes immediately.

The City of Merritt has issued an evacuation order for the 200 year flood plain of the Coldwater River, south of Nicola Avenue. Residents in this area must evacuate immediately. The city says it is working on updating the order with specific property addresses, but notes teams will be out knocking on doors in affected areas. 

Both Tulameen and Merritt are under flood warnings, as is the area around the Coldwater River near Brookmere. 

A flood watch means residents should be on alert for rising river levels, while a flood warning means river water has breached culverts and flooding will result.

The entire Fraser Valley region, including areas around Hope, was placed on flood watch earlier Sunday. 

Torrential rain expected to continue

The downpour is not expected to let up before Monday.

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued rainfall warnings Sunday for most of the southern half of the province, with up to 130 more millimetres of rain still in the forecast.

In parts of the Fraser Valley, residents waded through ankle-deep water to lay sandbags as their basements flooded. A number of drivers caught on the closed highways told CBC News they were going to spend the night on the side of the road.

Abbotsford fire Chief Darren Lee said the flooding compares to the disaster that led to hundreds of evacuations in 2006, while one expert said it's been decades since the area has seen so many mudslides.

This is obviously an extreme event, Brent Ward, a professor in the earth sciences department at Simon Fraser University, told CBC News.

Two deer wade down a flooded street in Langley on Sunday night. Parts of the Fraser Valley were overcome by water after more than a day of heavy rain. Enlarge image (new window)

Two deer wade down a flooded street in Langley on Sunday night. Parts of the Fraser Valley were overcome by water after more than a day of heavy rain.

Photo: (Supplied by Geevan Dhesi)

I've been discussing with grad students ... and we think this might be the worst series of landslides and flooding events since maybe 1983.

In Hope, roughly 5,500 people are without power as a result of the weather.

Torrential rain expected to continue

The downpour is not expected to let up before Monday.

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued rainfall warnings Sunday for most of the southern half of the province, with up to 130 more millimetres of rain still in the forecast.

In parts of the Fraser Valley, residents waded through ankle-deep water to lay sandbags as their basements flooded. A number of drivers caught on the closed highways told CBC News they were going to spend the night on the side of the road.

Abbotsford fire Chief Darren Lee said the flooding compares to the disaster that led to hundreds of evacuations in 2006, while one expert said it's been decades since the area has seen so many mudslides.

This is obviously an extreme event, Brent Ward, a professor in the earth sciences department at Simon Fraser University, told CBC News.

I've been discussing with grad students ... and we think this might be the worst series of landslides and flooding events since maybe 1983.

In Hope, roughly 5,500 people are without power as a result of the weather.

Drivers urged to stay home

A street in Abbotsford's Clayburn Village neighbourhood is flooded with water after several rainfall warnings and a flood watch was issued for the Fraser Valley on Sunday. Enlarge image (new window)

A street in Abbotsford's Clayburn Village neighbourhood is flooded with water after several rainfall warnings and a flood watch was issued for the Fraser Valley on Sunday.

Photo: (CattJackk/Twitter)

Drivers in the province are being asked to avoid any unnecessary travel.

Five major highways in the southern half of the province were closed as of 1 a.m. PT:

  • Highway 1 between Agassiz and Spences Bridge.
  • Highway 5 between Hope and Merritt.
  • Highway 3 at Sunshine Valley.
  • Highway 7 between Maple Ridge and Hope.

The flooding also cut off access on Highway 11 to the Sumas border crossing into the United States. Drivers were diverted to other Lower Mainland crossings until the possible reopening of the route on Monday.

Rhianna Schmunk (new window)David P. Ball (new window) · CBC News ·

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