VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Military troops are heading to BC to help those affected by record flooding.
“Troops are deploying to the affected areas and will provide assistance with evacuations, help protect key assets from flood damage, and bolster sandbagging efforts,” says federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in a statement.
National Defence spokesman Daniel Le Bouthillier says the Canadian Forces is sending dozens of troops as rapidly melting snowpacks and potentially heavy rain threaten more flooding.
“We deployed about 140 personnel to begin reconnaissance and to liaise with local emergency operations centres. This included centres from Joint Task Force Pacific, as well as personnel from 3 Division, which is based in Edmonton,” says Le Bouthillier.
The initial wave of troops is expected to arrive at a staging area in Vernon today. From there, they are expected to be deployed to areas like Grand Forks, where a second round of flooding is expected very soon.
Roly Russell with the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary is happy to get the help.
“The big unknown right now is rainfall. We have clouds in the sky today. We’ve had a window of quite hot weather over the last few days. Now, it’s a roll of the dice and see what happens with these weather systems.”
“We have our emergency operations centre people issuing evacuation orders for a span of about 300 kilometers of water, whether that’s river run or around a lake. It is a massively complex task, to coordinate the response over such a huge scale,” he adds.
Over the weekend, Premier John Horgan said BC could be facing a “one in 100 years” flood season in the southern part of the province.
Soaring temperatures over the last week have caused rapid melting of extremely heavy snowpacks, swelling many rivers in BC to flood stage and prompting evacuation orders or alerts affecting more than 2,000 properties.
Dozens of people have needed rescuing by boat in Grand Forks. Firefighters have had to swim through muddy and debirs-laden water to reach them.
A second surge is expected by tomorrow, with Environment Canada issuing special weather statements covering the entire southeastern corner of BC. NEWS 1130 meteorologist Russ Lacate says in Grand Forks, this afternoon and evening — and again, tomorrow — dramatic cloud is expected over the ridges, which could lead to severe thunderstorms.
As much as 40 millimetres of rain could fall by tomorrow. There are concerns about added damage due to heavy downpours during localized thunderstorms.
“With potential downpour rates of 20 millimetres per hour or more, is the kind of heavy rainfall that could create a sudden surge in the rising streamflow levels of the already stressed Kettle Valley, the Similkameen and the Okanagan watersheds,” says Lacate.
The Regional District of Kooenay Boundary says homes along the banks of the Kettle River are at risk and more evacuation orders could come into effect soon.
Schools in the Boundary region are closed today due to the possibility of sudden, serious flooding.
The entire Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is under a local state of emergency.