Thousands forced from homes in B.C. due to historic flood

Thousands of British Columbians have been forced from their homes by what some officials are calling a once-in-200-years flood.

Officials say river levels approaching those of the disastrous flood year of 1948

Flooding in the north of Rock Creek in the Boundary region of the B.C. Interior. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

UPDATES: Interior braces for more flooding as weather warms up​

Thousands of British Columbians have been forced from their homes by what some officials are calling a once-in-200-years flood.

Swollen rivers in B.C.'s Interior have spilled their banks, leaving valleys dotted with small lakes and changing what is normally the province's prime ranch country into otherworldly, mirrored paddy fields.

In some places, roads have been washed out and the ground under electricity poles has been so eroded that power lines have come down.

An aerial view of the Granby River in B.C.'s Interior. (Submitted to CBC)

The convergence of extremely heavy snowpacks, sudden downpours and unseasonably warm temperatures have all been factors in the historic flood.  

Chris Marsh, emergency operations centre director and program manager for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary, says rain has been a particular problem in the eastern area of the region.

"Over the last 24 to 36 hours we've experienced significant rainfall, up to 50 millimetres in some spots and in some of the drainages in this area, and that's caused the rivers to rise significantly over the past 24 hours," Marsh said Thursday.

Evacuation orders were issued Thursday for about 1,500 properties covering a large area along the Granby, Kettle and West Kettle rivers, as well as in the Carmi region southeast of Kelowna.

Forecasters say there's still a lot of snow in the Monashee Mountains which feed the rivers, and have issued several flood warnings.

WATCH: Footage of rising flood levels across B.C.'s Interior.

Officials say river levels approaching those of the disastrous flood year of 1948. 0:41

Residents have tried to make the best of the situation, hurrying to save what they can as water levels rise.

Volunteers and residents in Grand Forks, a town of 4,000 at the confluence of the Granby and Kettle rivers that was hit hard by flooding, banded together to stack sandbags and pump water.

Resident Steve Horkoff said the flooding is higher than in the disastrous flood year of 1948, when most of southeast B.C. was under water, entire towns were destroyed and lives were lost.

"I was just a little guy but I remember the water on Second Street," Horkoff said.

"This is higher. And if we get another couple days [of this] it'll be a little rough."

Floodwaters are rising in Grand Forks, B.C. Rivers are reaching levels not seen since the disastrous flood year of 1948. (Bob Keating/CBC)

Current Conditions:

Kootenay Boundary region

In the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary 33 properties are under an evacuation order, while nearly 800 more are on evacuation alert. (Bob Keating/CBC)
  • Just over 2,700 residents have been ordered out of their homes in the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary due to "imminent danger to life and health due to flooding," according to Frances Maika with the district.
  • The order applies to all low-lying areas near the Granby, Kettle and West Kettle rivers, and other areas under an evacuation alert yesterday.
  • Residents in Beaverdell, Midway and Grand Forks have been told to leave their homes immediately by using Highway 3 or Highway 33.
  • The River Forecast Centre has issued flooding warnings for the Kettle, West Kettle and Granby rivers and surrounding tributaries in the Boundary region. There is also a high streamflow advisory for West and East Kootenay.

Okanagan-Similkameen region

Flood watches are posted for a number of rivers in the Okanagan-Similkameen region. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
  • At 11 a.m. PT on Thursday, 54 properties in the Okanagan Falls area were under an evacuation order due to flooding along the Shuttleworth Creek.
  • Highway 3 remains closed in both directions, 14 kilometres west of Keremeos, because of flooding from the Similkameen River. There is currently no estimated time of opening.
  • The village of Keremeos has declared a state of emergency.
  • Osoyoos issued evacuation orders for properties in the Solana and Harbour Key areas of the town.
  • The River Forecast Centre has issued flood warnings for Mission Creek in Kelowna.
  • Flood watches are posted for a number of rivers, including the Similkameen.

Thompson-Nicola region

Residents of a mobile home park in the Lower Nicola area are expected to return home on Thursday. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)
  • Some people in the Lower Nicola area are expected to return home this afternoon after being under an evacuation order for several days.
  • The Thompson-Nicola Regional District issued an evacuation order for the Lower Nicola trailer park and three homes on Marshall Road on Sunday; one property on Marshall Road remains under the evacuation order.
  • After briefly reopening to local traffic, nearby Highway 8 was closed again in both directions Thursday morning at 10 Mile Bridge, 10 kilometres west of Merritt.

WATCH: Drone video captured on Monday shows the condition of the highway.

Aerial footage shows the impact rising waters on Highway 8, which is closed in both directions at 10 Mile Bridge, 10 km west of Merritt since Sunday. 0:40
  • In Upper Nicola, four RV parks on the Upper Nicola Reserve Lands are under an evacuation order, as the level of the Nicola lake is rising and expected to breach very soon.
  • In the nearby community of Ashcroft, 10 residents are unable to leave because several culverts have been washed out near Barns Road. The area has been deemed unsafe for travel, according to Michelle Nordstorm, from the region's emergency operation centre.

With files from CBC's Bob Keating, Brady Strachan and The Canadian Press