Thunderstorms Expected to Add to Flood Woes in South Central British Columbia

May 17, 2018 Last Updated: May 17, 2018

GRAND FORKS, B.C.—Federal help is on the way for flooded communities in south-central British Columbia as they brace for more high water caused by rapidly melting snowpacks and potentially heavy rain.

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale issued a statement Thursday confirming federal assistance for communities, including the city of Grand Forks, about 500 kilometres east of Vancouver.

“Officials are working closely with federal and provincial partners on planning the details of this assistance, including support from the Canadian Armed Forces,” Goodale said in the release.

“Troops are deploying to the affected areas and will provide assistance with evacuations, help protect key assets from flood damage, and bolster sandbagging efforts.”

An exact timeline was not provided, but the minister’s statement said help would be provided “as soon as possible.”

A tweet sent Wednesday night from Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said “the women and men of our Canadian armed forces are always ready to support Canadians.”

Environment Canada issued special weather statements Thursday covering the entire southeastern corner of British Columbia, including the flood-damaged Boundary region, as thunderstorms have the potential to add even more water to already raging rivers.

Forecasters predict as much as 40 millimetres of rain by Friday and there’s concern about added damage caused by heavy downpours during localized thunderstorms.

A news release from the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said properties along the banks of the surging Kettle River are at risk and more evacuation orders are possible.

School District 51, which operates eight elementary schools, two secondary schools and a development centre in the Boundary region, closed all schools Thursday because of the potential for imminent flooding.

A state of local emergency was in effect across the entire neighbouring Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen which posted on its website that provincial agencies are closely monitoring the levels of Osoyoos Lake and preparing for evacuation orders if required.

In the Regional District of Central Kootenay, east of Grand Forks, evacuation alerts were expanded along Erie Creek and the Salmo River, while firefighters from across the district were sent to the village of Salmo to help with sandbagging in anticipation of flooding there.

EmergencyInfoBC, the province’s online link to emergency information, carried links to eight regional districts and 13 municipalities, communities or First Nations where rising river or lake levels have prompted evacuation orders or alerts in British Columbia.