SURREY (NEWS 1130) – With evacuation orders already in place for parts of the Lower Mainland due to spring runoffs making way for rising water levels, more alerts are now being ordered.
Barnston Island is the latest to be under an evacuation alert, in anticipation of rising floodwaters from the Fraser River.
“The Evacuation Alert is a precautionary measure – Barnston Island residents are not required to leave at this time, but are advised to prepare for the possibility of an Evacuation Order,” reads a release from Metro Vancouver.
Access to the island is currently restricted to0 those living there, businesses and those with a family connection.
Meantime, water levels on the Fraser River through Chilliwack are expected top what that city saw in 2012.
Three homes in Carey Point which are not protected by the city’s dike system are under an evacuation order, while several others are on alert. But planning and engineering director David Blain says at this point, there’s no reason to panic.
“Once the river gets up towards seven and above, then all properties outside the dike will be of some concern. In terms of what’s protected inside the dike, the river has to get over eight in Mission before we have serious concerns.”
Meanwhile, an evacuation alert has been issued by the Township of Langley for unprotected flood plain areas of Northwest Langley and Glen Valley, as well as Brae Island and McMillan Island.
This is not an evacuation order — just an alert, that lets people in the affected areas know they need to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice if water levels rapidly rise.
The River Forecast Centre is projecting a rise to 6.6 meters though Mission in the coming days, which would be just above what was seen during the 2012 flooding season.
Blain tells us they’ll be ready when the river swells.
“Staff are working hard to prepare, but right now, it’s mainly monitoring. We have a detailed flood response plan and at different levels, different activities occur. We do have dike patrols underway.”
A high streamflow advisory is still in place for the Fraser River.
Vancouver Fire warning to stay away from swollen Fraser River
While flooding is not a concern right now further down the Fraser, Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services is still warning people to stay away from the river.
“We’re not too worried about flooding in Vancouver at this point based on the current predictions, but we are concerned about the enormous amount of volume and flow in the Fraser,” says Jonathan Gormick, public information officer for the VFRS.
“We are warning people to stay away from shorelines and beaches — anywhere that the city interfaces with the river.”
Gormick says they always advise people stay out of the river because of the strength of the current, even under normal conditions.
“But with this high flow, the current is going to be extremely strong. We are also worried about erosion around the shoreline. The high flow and high volume could make shore and beaches unstable,” he tells NEWS 1130.
“People could be standing on what they think is a stable part of interface and it could give way and they could get pulled into the river.”
Gormick says the Vancouver Park Board will be closing some beaches along the Fraser.