South Columbia Search and Rescue were all hands on deck in Grand Forks last week to help with flood relief.
“There have been multiple teams there doing all sorts of tasks,” president Mike Hudson told the Times. “From rescues to evacuation orders to checking on people who have decided not to leave. We were deployed on Thursday all day and night, and we had one member helping with Grand Forks command on Friday for some rescue operations.”
The team worked to issue almost 1,000 evacuations from Grand Forks, Midway, Westbridge, Rock Creek, Charlston Valley and Beaverdale.
Hudson says well over 30 search and rescue personal responded from South Columbia, Rossland, Castlegar, Nelson and Grand Forks on Thursday, with one swiftwater team deployed in Grand Forks and two outside of Midway.
“The devastation was absolutely horrible, people forced from their homes and businesses,” he said. “The water came in very quickly and in some cases impossible to stop. There were hundreds of volunteers working incredibly hard to save as much as they could,” Hudson added.
“In some areas, entire neighborhoods were lost, with debris and garbage floating down the streets. So much destruction has occurred and so much loss.”
While team members were assisting with historical flooding in the Boundary, the group had its own high water to deal with on the homefront.
South Columbia’s base is located on Main Street in Fruitvale.
”We are situated very close to Beaver Creek,” Hudson explained. “With rising creek levels our basement and equipment area has been flooding.”
The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) says community involvement during this time of unprecedented flooding has been remarkable. Volunteers are tirelessly supporting relief efforts across the Boundary region, and so far, 220,000 sandbags have been distributed.
Emergency officials are cautioning the public to remain vigilant in anticipation of the second surge of water from melting snow set to pass through local watersheds this week. The RDKB continues to work closely with local government officials in preparation of this event.
Public must remain out of evacuated areas. Evacuation orders have been put in place for public safety and those entering restricted areas put themselves at risk as well as divert resources from critical flood efforts.
Crews continue to repair critical dikes in the Boundary region in priority sequence.
The regional district will be holding two meetings today (Tuesday May 13) to update the Grand Forks and area communities on the flood situation. The first is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Rock Creek Fairgrounds and another at the Grand Forks Secondary School at 7 p.m.