B.C. floods: Some Sumas Prairie residents still weeks away from returning home, mayor says

Speaking at a press briefing Thursday, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said the Sumas Prairie must be drained and roads must be reopened before lifting all evacuation orders in the flood-impacted city. The base of the prairie -- once a lake -- is still under more than a metre of water, he said.

Cleanup efforts continue in Abbotsford, B.C. as the third atmospheric river in a week makes its way through the region.

The exhausted Fraser Valley community is dealing with countless millions of dollars in infrastructure damage and personal losses, but Mayor Henry Braun said flood levels are receding.

“Water in the Sumas Prairie lake bottom has dropped seven inches in the last 24 hours thanks to our Barrowtown pump station,” he said in a Thursday.

“We still have some floodwater running south to north across Boundary Road and vie road, although we expect water levels to continue to subside over the next couple of days.”

Meanwhile, the city and the elite search and rescue team at Canada Task Force 1 continue rapid damage assessments on flood-impacted homes.

It will be several weeks, however, before residents near the base of the flooded Sumas Prairie can return home, he said.

The lake at the base of the prairie is still 4.5 kilometres wide, he explained, but it’s shrinking every day.

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B.C. floods: Hatzic evacuees on edge as rising lake floods homes

All of the Sumas Prairie remains under an evacuation order, with the exception of Huntingdon Village, whose order was lifted Wednesday.

Braun said the municipality is working with Ottawa and B.C., “advocating for every bit of support and funding possible.”

The Canadian Red Cross, he added, is providing $2,000 per household to residents who were forced out of their homes by the Nov. 14 and 15 floods.

“While we know this is just the tip of the iceberg on what’s needed, it’s a start,” said Braun.

Anyone who is able to return to their homes and in need of help cleaning up can contact Samaritan’s Purse at 1-833-738-7743, he added. The charitable organization has special flood recovery vehicles and equipment, and has offered to help evacuees in Abbotsford and Merritt.

Braun said he’ll provide more details the return-to-home plan on Friday.

Read more:

B.C. floods: Hatzic evacuees on edge as rising lake floods homes

Members of the Canadian Armed Forces will remain in Abbotsford for the next few days as cleanup continues.

“We will be focused on rebuilding our critical infrastructure to ensure that we do not experience another event of this magnitude, or worse,” Braun said earlier in the week.

“We simply cannot lose focus on the infrastructure upgrades that are required to keep our community and region safe going forward.”

Elsewhere in the Fraser Valley, several hundred homes and properties on the east side of Mission remain under an evacuation order after the Hatzic River overflowed its banks on Tuesday.

High water levels on the Fraser River mean the flooded area is not expected to start drying out for at least a couple of days.

Environment Canada said a smaller storm system is expected to affect B.C.’s south coast late Friday.

— with files from The Canadian Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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