Flood-prone Tseshaht First Nation braces for more rain

Hope that the flood risk was easing for Vancouver Island's Tseshaht First Nation was dashed by updated weather forecasts on Sunday afternoon.

No flooding expected in Vancouver Island community on Sunday, but waters expected to rise again Monday

A state of emergency was issued for the Tseshaht reserve in anticipation of major flooding. (Dean Stoltz/CHEK News)

Hope that the flood risk was easing for Vancouver Island's Tseshaht First Nation was dashed by updated weather forecasts Sunday afternoon.

Officials hoped the worst of a major rain storm set to hit western and northern Vancouver Island would spare the Port Alberni area, but the latest weather indicators show that's not the case, said Tseshaht emergency coordinator Hugh Braker.

"The atmospheric river, which is what Environment Canada is calling it, is right on target, and right on time, unfortunately," he said. 

No flooding is expected in the community Sunday, but waters are expected to rise again Monday when heavy rain hits the watershed that feeds lakes and rivers in the Port Alberni area, Braker said.

The flooding could close Highway 4 to Tofino and Ucluelet by Monday night, he added.

The Tseshaht First Nation called a state of emergency Nov. 4 after heavy rainfall caused some flooding. Homes on the reserve were shored up with sandbags and six families were moved into hotels because their homes were at high risk from flood waters.

Those families were set to return home Sunday evening, but more evacuations are possible as early as Monday, Braker said.

"Tomorrow and especially Tuesday we are going to be very concerned for their safety and if it is as bad as it looks like it is going to be, then we will probably be encouraging them to leave," he said.

Flood watches in effect

Several flood watches remained in place for Vancouver Island communities on Sunday.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre said rivers and creeks near Port Alberni and in the Bowser, Courtenay and Campbell River areas remain under a flood watch.

A high stream flow advisory is in effect for Tofino Creek, Zeballos River and Gold River.

Environment Canada has also issued a rain and wind warning for the west and north parts of Vancouver Island. Up to 200 millimetres of rain could fall by Tuesday in the hardest hit areas.

About the Author

Megan Thomas


Megan Thomas is a reporter for CBC in Victoria, B.C. She covers stories from around Vancouver Island and the Sunshine Coast. Follow her on Twitter @meganTcbc.