Floods ebb in eastern B.C. but alerts remain in effect

Local states of emergency continue in B.C.'s Elk Valley region, near the Alberta border, and several highway routes to Alberta remain closed after this week's widespread flooding.

Elk Valley fire chief warns the curious not to get too close to riverbanks to snap photos

Heartbreak for some in B.C.'s flooded towns 2:30

Local states of emergency continue in B.C.'s Elk Valley region, near the Alberta border, and several highway routes to Alberta remain closed after this week's widespread flooding.

The worst hit residential area along the Elk River may be Hosmer, west of Fernie, where 30 homes closest to the river were evacuated, and where MLA Bill Bennett came out to help at a sandbagging station set up at the fire hall. An evacuation order for Lower Hosmer remained in effect Saturday.

On Saturday, the District of Elkford closed the emergency reception centre and rescinded the district-wide evacuation order, but said it is maintaining an evacuation alert. The Elk River, which spilled its banks and inundated Elkford and Fernie, has dropped about a metre since Friday's peak water level.

Fernie's mayor, Mary Giuliano, said everyone is watching the skies closely because if the heavy rains resume, the Elk River and other local streams and creeks will rise again.

An evacuation order that was issued in the town of Sparwood, which south of Elkford and north of Fernie, was also lifted Saturday.

Flood waters engulf vehicles parked near damaged train tracks in Sparwood B.C. (Joe Simon/YouTube)

Fire Chief Jim Jones said the water there is receding, but it is still running fast and dangerous and poses a serious hazard to the passersby who are stopping to snap photos from the riverbanks.

"I think it's a normal and natural thing for people to want to go and have a look at this stuff, they don't feel like they are in immediate danger even though they don't understand the bank could be undercut," he said.

"The power and the draw of the event is stronger than reasonable thinking ... and that's all I can say."

Also in the Elk Valley, the Fording River and Coal Mountain mines were closed due to flooding, but could be re-opened by Monday, officials said.

Flooding was also reported in the Okanagan and North Okanagan regions Friday. In Lumby, east of Vernon, the local creek overflowed into the downtown business area, and at least six homes were evacuated. In Kelowna, some people living along Mission Creek spent the day pumping out their basements.

Businesses in downtown Lumby were inundated by floodwaters Friday. (Photo courtesy of Nelson Kelly)

Highway 1 still closed at Banff

Overnight, the rain let up over most of southeastern B.C., but some showers and thunderstorms may still hit the southern interior Saturday and not all highways are passable.

Highway 1 through Banff is open for passenger vehicles but closed to commercial traffic, but east of Banff it is fully closed due to multiple washouts in Alberta.

Highway 93 is also closed to commercial traffic, between Radium and Castle Junction, and is closed to all traffic at Wasa with a detour via Highway 95A through Kimberley.

Sections of Highway 3A, highway 31, and highway 43 are reduced to single lane alternating traffic because of washouts.

Highway crews repair a damaged section of Highway 3A near Creston on Friday. (TranBC/Flickr)

With files from the CBC's Brady Strachan, Bob Keating and Emily Elias