Evacuation alert extended in North Cowichan due to flood watch


UPDATE: On Dec. 28, 2022, North Cowichan ended the evacuation alert. Read more about it here. The original story is preserved below.


The Municipality of North Cowichan is extending its evacuation alert through tomorrow due to rising river levels from heavy rain, snowmelt, and king tide events.

The alert was published for residents living near the Chemainus River on Boxing Day, closing off four roads and affecting about 30 homes.

“We got to sandbagging pretty quickly yesterday, so the house is dry for the moment and hopefully it stays that way,” said Cerah Bennett, whose family lives in North Cowichan.

Bennett says the front driveway and subsequent field area of her property are currently covered with water. Her family has lived in the area for more than a decade and has experienced catastrophic weather such as last year’s atmospheric river.

“I’m glad it’s not as bad as it was last year and hopefully it doesn’t get that bed. Hopefully, we stay dry on the inside,” said Bennett.

The province of B.C. held a press conference on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the recent weather. Rob Fleming, minister of transportation and infrastructure, says increased patrols are taking place on roadways to assess the risk of collapse or mudslides.

“Looking for those upslope conditions that could pose a hazard, which may lead us to make additional travel advisories or even road closures,” said Fleming.

According to the BC River Forecast Centre, the highest king tide event has passed the area, but more events are on the way. Officials say hundreds of millimetres of rain have fallen since last week.

“We’ve seen between 70 to 350 millimetres of rain since about Friday as well as quite a significant amount of snowmelt….[it] will continue to be a hazard as we go into this afternoon and into tomorrow,” said Dave Campbell, Head of BC River Forecast Centre.

Director of operations, Shawn Cator with North Cowichan says no injuries or significant damage has been reported. The municipality is offering free sandbags to residents to protect their property.

“They just need to bring a shovel and they’re free of charge,” said Cator.

North Cowichan will reassess their evacuation alert on Dec. 28.

Oli HerreraOli Herrera

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