British Columbia

'There's nothing to stop it': Floodwaters rising in Abbotsford as Nooksack River overflows

Water has now risen above a dike on the Nooksack River, and it's pooling between the river and a nearby road. Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun says that water is expected to flow into Abbotsford later Sunday.

Rising temperatures, snowmelt and heavy rainfall hit the Fraser Valley

Members of Canada's Armed Forces work with Abbotsford, B.C., residents on Saturday to sandbag an area that was previously flooded when the Nooksack River in Washington state overflowed its banks. (Janella Hamilton/CBC News)

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun says he's increasingly concerned about rising waters in and around his city as a series of atmospheric rivers continues to pummel B.C.'s South Coast. 

During a news conference on Sunday, Braun said Whatcom County in Washington state had advised that water has now risen above a dike on the Nooksack River, and it's pooling between the river and a nearby road. 

Braun expected the water flow to reach Abbotsford later Sunday, as existing sandbag walls are not enough to stop the Nooksack River.

"It's gonna go over Main Street [in Everson, Wash.], and then it's headed here. There's nothing to stop it after that," Braun said.

The Nooksack River, which flows through Washington state near the B.C. border, is seen overflowing its banks in a photograph from Whatcom County, Wash., on Nov. 20, 2021. ( Larry McCarter/Whatcom County Government)

The city has received 100 millimetres of rain this weekend, snow is melting, temperatures are rising and more rain is forecast for the coming days. Braun said water levels in the Sumas Prairie lake bottom have risen 75 millimetres since Saturday.

Localized flooding has taken over the Clayburn Village area of Abbotsford, which remains under evacuation alert, and Braun says water levels have reached about 450 millimetres. 

Crews, including military personnel, continue to sandbag areas prone to flooding and other mitigation work is being done. Braun said the community has everything it needs to be prepared, thanks to help from the provincial and federal governments. 

He said the city doesn't need more resources — instead, they must wait and see what happens next.

"We can't just throw more stuff at it," Braun said.

"I am confident that we have done what we can do, and we are as ready as we can be for the event that is about to unfold."

WATCH | Dairy farmer Mike Dykshoorn talks about the anxiety faced by farmers in B.C.'s Fraser Valley:

B.C. dairy farmer feeling anxious after latest flooding in B.C.'s Fraser Valley.

2 years ago
Duration 0:44
Featured VideoFarmers like Mike Dykshoorn in B.C.'s Fraser Valley are anxiously watching waters rise again in the southwest region of the province just two weeks after catastrophic flooding.

The Ministry of Transportation closed Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack at 5 p.m. PT Sunday night out of concern for flooding on the highway.

And new evacuation orders were issued for properties in the Huntingdon Village area of Abbotsford. Later Sunday evening, evacuation orders were issued for seven homes on the city's Whatcom Road, while other properties along Sandringham Drive were put on an evacuation alert following a mudslide in the area.

Evacuation orders were also issued for homes along Chilliwack Lake Road, east of Abbotsford and also for Othello Road, which runs along the Coquihalla River.

Evacuation orders for residents of the Sumas Prairie and Straiton areas remain in effect. 

"I would urge [residents] to heed our warnings, to obey the orders and to leave, because tomorrow the world may look quite different over there," Braun said.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services.

With files from Akshay Kulkarni and Olivia Stefanovich