British Columbia

Flood woes continue in parts of B.C.

Thousands have been affected by evacuation orders and some families have been trapped in the rising waters as flooding continues in parts of British Columbia.

Thousands remain under evacuation order; cities see 'catastrophic' damage

These two residents of Grand Forks, B.C., were trying to examine a family member's home, but police told them to leave. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Latest updates:

  • 23 local states of emergency have been declared.
  • Evacuation orders and alerts issued in seven regional districts and eight First Nations around the province.
  • Officials say 30 rescues have happened around Grand Forks, one of the hardest-hit areas.
  • More flooding expected next week as warm weather arrives.

Thousands have been affected by evacuation orders and some families have been trapped in the rising waters as flooding continues in parts of British Columbia.

In Grand Forks, B.C. — one of the hardest hit areas — officials said there were more than 30 incidents where people were rescued from flooding.

"I just packed up my dad, my son and my dogs and we ran," said local resident Alanna McNabb. "The water was just incredible, how fast it came up."

McNabb said there is usually some flooding in the town each year, but she's never seen the water rise this high. 

"I was in disbelief. Never in a million years would I have thought it would be that bad," she said. 

First responders rescued one man from the Kettle River in Grand Forks on Friday, estimated to be their 31st rescue of the day. The man was able to grab hold of a log and wait there until the swift water rescue specialists were able to get to him. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Residents are banding together, she said, but people are also exhausted from sandbagging and emotions are running high. 

The town's fire chief, Dale Heriot, said water levels in the river were receding on Saturday, but warm weather would likely lead to them rising again in the next few days.

Heriot urged residents to stay away from rivers and to keep sandbags in place. 

The regional district said an unknown number of people had been trapped in their homes, prompting a flyover by emergency officials.

Heriot said the first priority for his crews is to let residents get back to their homes as soon as possible so they can assess any damage. 

Even the local firehall was evacuated, Heriot said, but crews have since returned.

Officials said the damage to Grand Forks has been "catastrophic.''

"The effects from this event will be long lasting,'' said Chris Marsh of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary. "We're talking years and years and million of dollars.''

No injuries have been reported.

Water is now starting to recede in some parts of downtown Grand Forks, but much of the area is still under water. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

'There's nothing we can do'

In Osoyoos, a picturesque tourist hot spot about 125 kilometres west of Grand Forks, the level on Osoyoos Lake has risen dramatically — some say by well over 30 centimetres.

Waters have flooded low lying streets, homes and basements and triggered a state of local emergency. More than two dozen evacuations were issued in a number of neighbourhoods Friday evening.

Frank Stadnyk, manager of the lakeside Poplars Motel, said he had to evacuate all of his 12 suites.

"It's been pure hell. It's been very stressful," Stadnyk said. "But there's nothing we can do about it. We just have to roll with the punches."

Stadnyk said he'd never experienced this level of flooding in the 17 years he's lived in the town. 

The Poplars Motel in Osoyoos, B.C., usually has a beach in front of it. Instead, flooding has made water levels rise right up to the property. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

Like many of the lakeside hotel and motel operators, Stadnyk has had to cancel all of his reservations for May, including over the long weekend, and he said he doesn't expect operations to be up and running again until mid-June. 

"There's going to be a lot of cleanup," Stadnyk said. 

"It's going to take a long time for everything to get back to normal."

Warm weather is expected to contribute to flooding conditions, melting the heavy snowpacks that feed the swollen streams and rivers in the hard-hit areas.

Flooding has also been reported in Keremeos, Cawston and Okanagan Falls

And it's not just B.C.'s Interior under flood watch. B.C.'s Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said the province is closely monitoring water levels in the Fraser Valley on B.C.'s South Coast for any potential flooding.

The Fraser River, including the area running from Prince George through Hope, is under a high streamflow advisory.

Evacuations continued Friday in the town of Osoyoos. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

More than 2,700 people under evacuation order

More than 2,700 people were affected by the orders, with many struggling to salvage what they could and fortify their properties.

The Emergency Info BC website listed evacuation orders or alerts in seven regional districts and for eight First Nations around the province on Friday, including:

The following communities have issued flooding-related evacuation alerts or orders not currently available online:

  • Nazko First Nation
  • Nooaitch Indian Band
  • Westbank First Nation
  • Xatśūll First Nation (Soda Creek First Nation)

For the latest updates check the EmergencyInfoBC flooding website.

With files from Rafferty Baker, Brady Strachan and The Canadian Press