Spring flooding in B.C., Alberta, Ont., Que., N.B. prompts evacuation orders

Rivers swollen with spring run-off and choked with ice are causing floods in parts of B.C. Alberta, Quebec, Ontario and New Brunswick.

'We really never had a spring. We went from winter to summer in 48 hours'

Local residents head back to check on their house surrounded by the waters of the St. John River in Fredericton, N.B., on Sunday. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Rivers swollen with spring run-off and choked with ice are causing floods in several parts of Canada, as a long winter in some areas gives way to warmer spring temperatures.

New Brunswick

Widespread flooding in New Brunswick has left many roads under water and severed one small island community's only link to the mainland. Darlings Island, a community about 30 kilometres northeast of Saint John, has one road that connects to the rest of the province, and it's under water. 

For the island's dozens of residents, that meant wading out in boots or taking a boat shuttle.

Swollen rivers have also washed out roads in Fredericton, Saint John and other communities. 

As rain drenches the capital and the St. John River continues to swell, water levels threaten to rival those of the 2008 flood, according to Wayne Tallon, director of Fredericton's Emergency Measures Organization.

He said river levels had been stable at about eight metres, but rainfall on Monday threatened to push them to 8.3 metres.

A kayaker makes his way past a highway ramp as the St. John River water levels rise faster than normal around Fredericton Saturday. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Tallon said he thinks the quick change in weather as well as heavy rains contributed to the rapid flooding. 

"We really never had a spring," he said. "We went from winter to summer in 48 hours."

Fredericton Mayor Mike O'Brien asked residents to be patient and to respect the traffic measures in place. 

"We'll get through this … and hopefully at the end of this, we can all meet downtown and have a pop," O'Brien said.

Alberta

Flooding has plagued areas of central and northern Alberta in recent days, but the majority of about 300 people whose homes were evacuated in the northern Alberta hamlet of Fort Vermilion homes are being allowed to return.

Levels on the Peace River dropped significantly overnight, said Byron Peters, who is with the emergency co-ordination centre in Mackenzie County, about 660 kilometres north of Edmonton.

"We're quite confident that the situation is improving," Peters said. "It could always jam again. We're quite hopeful that it won't and if it does, it would be far enough downstream that we believe Fort Vermilion should be OK."

The evacuation order was lifted at 10:40 a.m. Monday

Elsewhere in the province, a critical alert due to high water levels and flooding remained in effect for Woodlands County, about 150 kilometres northwest of Edmonton.

Watch as giant chunks of ice churn their way down the Peace River.

Ice jamming the Peace River is causing floods in northern Alberta 0:42

British Columbia

In B.C., flooding prompted the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to order the evacuation of 148 properties in the Tulameen area because of "immediate danger to life and safety."

The rest of the town is under an evacuation alert, meaning residents could be forced from their homes at a moment's notice.

The district declared a local state of emergency on Sunday, as did Cariboo Regional District, where some residents were airlifted by helicopter.

Mounties landed behind floodwaters in the Nazko Valley and were going door to door to make sure everyone at the 120 properties under evacuation order got out safely, according to Cariboo Regional District spokesperson Emily Epp. 

Emergency officials said a local state of emergency has also been declared in the Central Okanagan because of the potential risks of mudslides and other issues related to spring run-off. An evacuation order for 12 properties in Killiney Beach affected only two people however, as the area is mostly vacation homes. 

Warm weather is melting the unusually high snowpack across most of B.C., causing rivers and lakes to rise quickly. 

Emergency officials there say potential rainfall in various regions will likely make matters worse because the ground is already saturated.

Flooding near Cawston, B.C., has prompted the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to issue a local state of emergency. (RDOS/Twitter)

Quebec

In some areas of Quebec, rain and warm weather have led to flooding, and authorities are closely monitoring water levels across the province. 

The Public Security Ministry's website shows 24 areas where minor or medium-level flooding is occurring, mainly in the Eastern Townships, Beauce and Quebec City.

In Lévis, some residents were being asked to leave their homes Monday morning as a precaution.

Homes are surrounded by water in the town of Sainte-Marie, Que., a municipality in the Beauce region. (Marc-Antoine Lavoie/CBC)

In Weedon, about 200 kilometres east of Montreal, 500 homes on streets threatened by water levels received precautionary evacuation notices on Sunday.

The rain and snow melt have already led to flooding in some homes and forced some evacuations in the Beauce and the Gaspé. 
A car drives on a flooded road in Sainte-Marie. (Daniel Coulombe/Radio-Canada)

Ontario

In northern Ontario, hundreds of people from Kashechewan, a community on the James Bay coast, have been flown out due to flooding concerns.

According to Emergency Management Ontario, a precautionary evacuation of the community began last week and will continue as needed.

Evacuees were being flown to Kapuskasing, Timmins, Cochrane and Thunder Bay.

Last week, residents of Kashechewan started to be flown out of their community due to flooding concerns. (Jean-Loup Doudard/Radio-Canada)