As Thursday comes to a close, nearly 2,800 people across the Boundary have been evacuated. Here’s what you need to know:
The RDKB issued the first evacuation orders Wednesday night for 33 properties, and followed those with more Thursday morning and 1,125 proprieties later Thursday afternoon. Of those, over 400 were located in Grand Forks and Area D.
According to information issued Thursday night, evacuation orders have been issued to 1,390 properties affecting an estimated 2,800 residents Boundary-wide in the last 24 hours.
The 1,125 evacuated homes include 380 in Grand Forks and the south valley, 114 in the Christina Lake area, 89 in the North Fork area, 12 in Greenwood, 35 in Midway, six in Rock Creek, 142 in the Christian Valley area, 141 in the Beaverdell area, 158 in the Carmi area and 48 in Westbridge and north.
The rivers are expected to peak Thursday night and into Friday morning, and it is expected levels could remain high for a prolonged period.
Evacuation centres have been set up in Grand Forks (at the Grand Forks Curling Club) and Midway (the Midway Community Centre). All residents who have been evacuated are asked to check in with Emergency Social Services at those locations. Red cross volunteers are staffing those locations, and reunification services are available. Group lodging is also available there.
The Grand Forks Recreation Department posted an offer of free showers on Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. for all evacuees.
The days ahead
Emergency Operations Centre director Chris Marsh said that we could expect to see flooding into Friday and possibly longer.
“The very difficult flooding situation is expected to continue through [Friday] and possibly longer,” Marsh said in a news release issued Thursday night.
Marsh said there was no yet an estimate of when evacuees might be able to return home, though it was in “everyone’s best interest” to have them return as soon as it was safe to do so. Once water levels reach peak, that begins the “recovery phase,” Marsh said.
Secondary peaks on rivers remain possible, depending on temperature, rain and remaining snowpack levels.
During to the RDKB during a media availability on Thursday afternoon, over 120,000 sandbags have now bee deployed and filled at 11 locations in the Boundary. Volunteers filled and delivered sandbags to locations throughout the day Thursday, and were in several cases joined by classes from nearby schools.
Kettle River Watershed Authority coordinator Jessica Mace, who is coordinating volunteer sandbagging efforts, said that volunteers have come from as far as Castlegar and Trail to help fill and deliver sandbags. Many community groups and individuals have brought food and water to sandbagging volunteers, she added.
Downtown Grand Forks
Downtown Grand Forks and Market Avenue are experiencing significant flooding. Businesses were order to evacuate Thursday afternoon, and by mid-afternoon more than a foot of water was present in some locations on Market Avenue.
Many roads were closed by Thursday afternoon. Highway 3 near Second Street was open,. though flaggers were on scene slowing traffic as significant water was present at the highway level.
Many businesses and volunteers sandbagged in downtown into Thursday evening.
City Park is also closed.
Roads and Highways
Many roads in the area have been reported washed out or closed.
The Christina Lake Fire Department reported a wash-out on McRae Creek Road on Wednesday night. The Granby Road was closed near the landfill due to flooding, prompting the closure of the landfill until further notice.
An access warning was issued by the RDKB on Wednesday night for properties in the Brown Creek area due to concerns that the properties could be isolated if the rivers washed onto the roads.
Drive BC also reported water on the highways in some locations, including near Beaverdell.
Drive BC is asking drivers to exercise extreme caution when driving on highways if there is water present. Drivers are asked to avoid entering areas experiencing extreme flooding; the motion of a car or truck can cause waves that further damage flooding properties.
Search and Rescue
Grand Forks Search and Rescues were deployed throughout the day Thursday, and were joined by search and rescue teams from Castlegar, Rossland, Nelson and South Columbia (Trail/Fruitvale). About 20 members had been deployed on Thursday.
Grand Forks Search and Rescue incident command Grant Burnard said teams had been mobilized by the RDKB to serve evacuation orders. As well, six swiftwater-certified teams of two members were available to do swiftwater rescue and home evacuations should the need arise. As of Thursday afternoon, Burnard said there had been no incidents requiring swiftwater rescue to his knowledge.
The two evacuation centres are located at:
- Grand Forks Curling Rink, 7230 21 St., Grand Forks
- Midway Community Centre, 692 7 Ave., Midway
The Emergency Operations Centre can be reached at 1-888-747-9119.