British Columbia

With a heat wave on the way, sodden B.C. prepares for second flood surge

B.C.'s weekend weather was drier, but officials are warning locals that round two of flooding is likely on its way with warm weather expected to melt even more snow — sending more run-off into swamped communities.

Warm temperatures expected to bring more muck this week

Cathy Currie woke up to find her truck deep in the water. Now she and her daughter can't get out of Grand Forks. The city, like many others in B.C., is bracing for another onslaught of flooding this week. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

UPDATES: B.C. Interior braces for more flooding as temperatures rise

British Columbia saw its first flooding surge of the season last week, prompting nearly two dozen states of emergency and forcing about 4,000 people from their homes.

The weekend weather was drier, but officials are warning that round two of the flood surge is likely on its way with warm weather expected to melt even more snow — sending more run-off into swamped communities.

Almond Gardens is among several communities battling the floodwaters in the Kootenay-Boundary regional district. (Regional District of Kootenay Boundary)

Environment Canada says Grand Forks, one of the hardest hit areas, can expect temperatures around 28 C all week with rain hitting on Wednesday.

More than 2,700 people are still under evacuation orders in the region. Search and rescue officials said the flooding in Grand Forks has already been "catastrophic."

On Friday alone, more than 30 rescues were necessary as people became trapped in their homes or, in one case, the gushing Kettle River.

Officials with the Kootenay-Boundary district have warned residents to keep sandbags in place for the week, saying water levels will peak on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Three of the region's rivers — the Granby, Kettle and West Kettle — have already broken 70-year water level records by about 60 centimetres.

A man rides a bicycle in the dirty floodwater inundating downtown Grand Forks, as a crew sandbags a business in the background. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Osoyoos Lake already swollen

Osoyoos, a semi-desert area 125 kilometres west of Grand Forks, is forecast to crack 30 C all week.

The town is keeping a close eye on Osoyoos Lake, where water levels are already way up — some say 30 centimetres above normal.

Muck has flooded low-lying streets, homes and basements. More than two dozen evacuations were issued in a number of neighbourhoods Friday evening, with 600 people on evacuation alert.

Resident Stephen Tye has water pressing up against his home on all sides.

"I'm thinking if we go up another foot we've got real problems," he said over the weekend.

Osoyoos resident Stephen Tye says he is grateful for the volunteers and forest workers who are bagging sand. (Brady Strachan/CBC)

In Merritt, closer to Kamloops, water is rushing through rivers at "unprecedented levels" already.

"High and fast, that's completely accurate," said information officer Sean Smith. "This is uncharted territory for us."

The local seniors home has been evacuated, with flooding expected to peak Sunday or Monday.

The regional district of Okanagan-Similkameen said it's already distributed one million sandbags across the region this season.

On Sunday, it issued an evacuation alert for 112 homes along along the floodplain of the Similkameen River Valley, which includes the village of Keremeos.

'We're far from done with this'

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth toured the area Sunday afternoon and described the damage as devastating.

He said that his government is committed to recovery and rebuilding.

"This is going to take a long-term commitment and we are here, and we are going to be here for the long term," he said at a news conference in Grand Forks on Sunday.

The provincial government plans to review options for further flood support on Monday.

Damage and safety assessments are underway and areas that are now dry will have evacuation orders rescinded as soon as it is safe to do so.

Re-entry for homeowners whose properties have been unaffected by the floodwaters are the priority.

Premier John Horgan said the province could be facing a "one in a 100 years'' flood season, after his latest briefing on the situation and after speaking with the mayor of Grand Forks.

"We're far from done with this," Horgan said Saturday.

"We're going to have a couple of weeks of very, very difficult times along the waterways of British Columbia," said Horgan.

Stuart McGregor fiddles with a pump outside his restaurant in downtown Grand Forks. He says the water isn't the threat so much as the loss of electricity, which could mean his stored food will spoil without generators. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

With files from The Canadian Press, Brady Strachan and Jenifer Norwell