Southern B.C. rivers recede after weekend deluge but some areas still affected

Southern B.C. rivers recede after weekend deluge but some areas still affected
Flooding seen at the Russell Farms Market in Chemainus on Feb. 1, 2020.

Flood warnings and watches for rivers and streams on Vancouver Island have been downgraded as southern British Columbia emerges from a storm that dumped up to 14 centimetres of rain in some regions.

The BC River Forecast Centre ended flood warnings and watches Monday for the west and east coasts of Vancouver Island, but it is maintaining high streamflow advisories for the central and southern regions.

It says the Ash, Sproat, Somass and Cowichan rivers are still high relative to normal February levels and minor flooding remains possible but most other rivers have peaked.

Heavy rains that began Thursday and didn’t let up until Saturday are blamed for flooding, washouts and mudslides in several south coast regions, including a slide on Friday that destroyed the only road leading to the Sasquatch Mountain Resort near Mission.

More than 500 hundred guests, employees and area residents were trapped on the mountain Friday night, but helicopters had managed to ferry most out of the area by late Sunday.

A Transportation Ministry spokeswoman said in a statement that crews working around-the-clock made significant progress on the road, allowing for a brief opening Monday for people who wanted to drive out of the area.

“There is still much work to be done before this road can be opened up to regular traffic,” the statement says.

Flooding has affected roads near Harrison Hot Springs, Cowichan Bay, and Squamish, and high water on Highway 11 south of Abbotsford forced the closure of the Sumas border crossing until further notice.

The District of Kent evacuated about 40 properties and declared a state of local emergency after mudslides and washouts affected an area on the east side of Harrison Lake on Saturday.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District on Vancouver Island made a similar declaration on the weekend but receding floodwaters in north Cowichan allowed the district to lift an evacuation order imposed over the weekend.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2020.


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