Island rivers see water levels rise amid major rainfall, flood watch issued for Englishman River

Island rivers see water levels rise amid major rainfall, flood watch issued for Englishman River

The wild power of mother nature drew Steve Alphonse and his family to the edge of the Cowichan River Sunday, where gripping fishing spears, they stood in awe.

“It’s pretty ferocious,” said Alphonse, a Cowichan resident. “I think it’s extraordinary to see the river the way it is.”

The rain fell so hard and so fast on Sunday that many rivers up and down the Island were filled to the brim with fast-moving water, including the Cowichan River, which only a few months ago had dangerously low water levels.

On Sunday, the BC River Forecast Centre issued a flood watch for the Englishman River, near Parksville, noting that it has the potential to reach or exceed the flood stage.

“Rivers have risen rapidly from rainfall since yesterday. Additional rises are expected overnight and potentially into mid-to-late day Monday. Current modelling is indicating the potential for flows in the 2-year to 5-year range through most of the region, with locally higher amounts,” the BC River Forecast Centre said in a statement.

“On the Englishman River, flows are already high and additional rainfall forecasted for today is indicating the potential for the river to reach or exceed flood stage.”

Meanwhile, Inland Vancouver Island is bracing for up to 150 mm of rain before the atmospheric river moved through on Monday.

“We gotta keep positive though and keep going I guess. No, I want to cry,” said France Bournazel, owner of Russell Farms Market in the Chemainus area.

The rainfall warning was a scary one for Bournazel, whose farm and market are alongside the fast-rising Chemainus River. Both the market and farm were devastated by its floodwaters in February 2020 and Bournazel said it appears to be happening all over.

“Right now, I want to close the market and go and move the tractors and move everything away, because the water is already going over,” said Bournazel. “It is what it is, now we just have to pray. It’s really frustrating.”

When the floods hit her farm and market in February, Bournazel had insurance but this time around, she said she has been refused flood insurance until the government rectifies the danger.

“I want it to be fixed. That’s enough. It’s not just me. It’s a lot of people around here we are all in the same boat,” said Bournazel.

So the hours ahead promised to be nervous ones for Bournazel and neighbours, as the extraordinary rains continued to fall and Island rivers rose.

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Skye RyanSkye Ryan

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