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All of southwest B.C. under flood watch as 3rd consecutive storm rolls through

Hundreds remain under evacuation order; avalanches and landslides also a potential risk

Tractors drive through a flooded field in Abbotsford, British Columbia.

Southern British Columbia is preparing to receive precipitation from a third atmospheric river.

Photo: La Presse canadienne / Jonathan Hayward

RCI

The last of three major storms is pounding southwest B.C. with heavy rain as flood-ravaged communities brace for potential evacuations and damage.

THE LATEST:

  • The province is preparing for another day of heavy rains, as the last of three major storm systems to hit southwest B.C. is expected to ease off Wednesday evening.

  • Up to 100 millimetres of rain (new window) is expected in the flood-battered Fraser Valley, with a snowfall advisory (new window) also in place for parts of central B.C.

  • Early Wednesday morning, a landslide closed Highway 7 in both directions near Maria Slough Bridge east of Agassiz. As of 7:45 a.m., the road had opened to single-lane alternating traffic in both directions.

  • Highway 99 between Lillooet and Pemberton was closed on Tuesday due to the storms, with many highways under travel advisory (new window) in the province. For a full list of closures, see here (new window).

  • Evacuation orders remain in effect for properties near waterways in the Fraser Valley (new window)the Thompson-Nicola Regional District (new window), and the Sea to Sky region. For more on evacuation alerts and orders, see here (new window).

  • A flood watch is in place for the Coquihalla, Sumas, Tulameen, Similkameen, Coldwater, Lower Nicola and Fraser rivers, as well as all of Vancouver Island and the Central Coast. For all flood warnings and advisories, see here (new window).

  • The whole of southwest B.C., including Vancouver Island and the Central Coast, is under flood watch (new window), with flood-soaked regions like the Fraser Valley and the Nicola Valley east of Vancouver set to receive up to 100 millimetres of rain, while snow is also expected at higher elevations. 

    Up to 150 millimetres of rain (new window) is forecast for parts of Vancouver Island.

    The impact from the rain is expected to be worse due to extensive damage from previous storms. The biggest, which struck the province from Nov. 13 to 15, led to landslides and rainfall records (new window) being broken, while another two before and during the weekend (new window) led to renewed evacuation orders and highway closures.

    Evacuation orders remain in place for hundreds of properties (new window) in southwest B.C. The current storm system affecting the province hit the Central Coast first before travelling south, leading to more evacuation orders in areas north of the Fraser Valley region and Metro Vancouver.

    This includes the communities  of Hope (new window)Mission (new window), and Hatzic (new window) in the eastern Fraser Valley. Some residents of Maple Ridge, just east of Vancouver, had warnings delivered to them (new window) due to potential floods.

    Hundreds of residents also remain away from their homes in B.C.'s Interior, including in Princeton and Merritt.

    Flood watches are in effect for the Fraser, Tulameen, Coldwater, Similkameen, Coquihalla and Sumas rivers. A flood warning means river levels have exceeded or will exceed their banks, and nearby areas will flood as a result. A flood watch means river levels are rising and may spill their banks.

    Nearly all of the province is also at a high or extreme risk of avalanche (new window) due to warming temperatures, with the greatest dangers in places like the Sea to Sky region, north of Vancouver, the northwest coast and the northern Rockies.

    Highway closures and choked supply chain

    On Tuesday, Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet was closed until further notice due to weather conditions. The stretch saw a mudslide that left four people dead (new window) and one missing.

    A landslide early Wednesday morning has closed a section of Highway 7 in both directions near Maria Slough Bridge east of Agassiz. As of 7:45 a.m., the road had opened to single-lane alternating traffic in both directions.

    Numerous other highways remain closed or under travel advisory because of the impact of previous floods and mudslides.

    The stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) between Abbotsford and Chilliwack, crucial for connecting Metro Vancouver and the rest of the province, remains closed.

    There is also a travel advisory for Highway 20 in the Bella Coola Valley area on the Central Coast.

    Though Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton has been reopened, allowing for commercial vehicles and other essential travel, the storm has choked the province's supply chain.

    Dave Earle, president of the B.C. Trucking Association, said Tuesday it is taking truckers "more than double the time" to get goods from one point to another in the province.

    Tuesday also saw the announcement of a potential strike by container truck drivers serving the Port of Vancouver (new window), and continuing impacts on railway lines.

    Highway closures and choked supply chain

On Tuesday, Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet was closed until further notice due to weather conditions. The stretch saw a mudslide that left four people dead (new window) and one missing.

    A landslide early Wednesday morning has closed a section of Highway 7 in both directions near Maria Slough Bridge east of Agassiz. As of 7:45 a.m., the road had opened to single-lane alternating traffic in both directions.

    Numerous other highways remain closed or under travel advisory because of the impact of previous floods and mudslides.

    The stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) between Abbotsford and Chilliwack, crucial for connecting Metro Vancouver and the rest of the province, remains closed.

    There is also a travel advisory for Highway 20 in the Bella Coola Valley area on the Central Coast.

    Though Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton has been reopened, allowing for commercial vehicles and other essential travel, the storm has choked the province's supply chain.

    Dave Earle, president of the B.C. Trucking Association, said Tuesday it is taking truckers "more than double the time" to get goods from one point to another in the province.

Tuesday also saw the announcement of a potential strike by container truck drivers serving the Port of Vancouver (new window), and continuing impacts on railway lines. 

A section of Route 8 was washed away.

About ten sections of Route 8 were washed away.

Photo: BC Hydro/Twitter

    Canadian National said on Monday that it had stopped some of its service along the southern B.C. freight corridor because the rain caused increased debris, washouts and landslides.

    CN diverted some rail traffic to the Port of Prince Rupert, but both northbound and eastbound traffic to and from Vancouver were still affected.

    Fuel rationing is also set to remain in place in B.C. until at least Dec. 14 (new window).

A house is pictured surrounded by sandbags to prevent floodwater in the Sumas Prairie flood zone in Abbotsford. Numerous volunteers have banded together to help those in the community affected by floods.

A house is pictured surrounded by sandbags to prevent floodwater in the Sumas Prairie flood zone in Abbotsford. Numerous volunteers have banded together to help those in the community affected by floods.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ben Nelms

Community spirit in Abbotsford

In the city of Abbotsford, southeast of Vancouver, which has been particularly hard hit by flooding, numerous volunteers were using Facebook groups (new window) to coordinate and help those in need.

Kulwant Gill, a volunteer who spent her lunch break filling sandbags at the city's Albert Dyck Park, said many residents were trying to do their part as human beings during the natural disaster.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said Tuesday that flood modelling showed water levels were stabilizing, and said he was confident the city had done all it could to prepare for the last weather event this week.

CBC News with files from Joel Ballard and The Canadian Press

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