British Columbia

Some evacuation orders lifted in B.C.'s Interior as flooding threat eases

A state of local emergency was rescinded on Saturday in the Southern Interior city of Grand Forks, B.C., while some evacuation orders for properties under threat of flooding were also lifted.

Regional district lifts evacuation order for 32 properties in Grand Forks as rains ease, river levels hold

A front end digger scoops large boulders and rocks at a culvert on a street in Cache Creek B.C.
Crews install a rip rap at culvert outlet at the intersection of B.C. Highway 97 and B.C. Highway 1 in Cache Creek B.C. on May 3, 2023 to help prevent erosion from further flooding in the area. (B.C. Ministry of Transporation)

A state of local emergency was rescinded on Saturday in the Southern Interior city of Grand Forks, B.C., while some evacuation orders for properties under threat of flooding were also lifted.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) said in a release on Sunday afternoon that decreased rain in the area has resulted in a reduction in water levels in some rivers and creeks.

The regional district rescinded an evacuation order for 34 properties in the city of around 4,000 residents, located 500 kilometres east of Vancouver.

That order has been downgraded to an evacuation alert. Evacuation orders remain for at least 29 other properties, while hundreds also remain on evacuation alert in the region.

WATCH | Residents in Grand Forks B.C. relieved over flooding reprieve:

Flooding risk eases in Grand Forks, B.C.

5 months ago
Duration 2:20
The CBC's Tom Popyk tours Grand Forks as water levels hold steady

Mark Stephens, manager of emergency programs with RDKB, said on Sunday that the swelling Kettle and Granby rivers are now cresting and the threat of flooding is receding in the region.

"We've seen a reprieve from the weather," he said. "We're optimistic we'll see the river levels here start to decrease."

Grand Forks Mayor Everett Baker said there was no property damage reported from the flooding event.

He said the city learned from a devastating flood in 2018 that destroyed close to 100 homes. Since then, it has spent around $40 million buying out properties on the flood plain and investing in protective infrastructure such as new levees and pumping stations.

"I'm pleased to see the water is staying in the river and not downtown," he said.

Cache Creek emergency remains

In Cache Creek, a village about 350 kilometres northeast of Vancouver, a state of local emergency remains in place and has been extended until May 13.

Village officials said 21 properties remained on evacuation order, while 12 others were still on alert. Crews brought in sandbags, cleared asphalt and put in a mound of soil in a key location along the creek near Quartz Road in order to prevent further flooding.

A washed out street with debris and sandbags due to flooding in Cache Creek B.C.
The aftermath from flooding in Cache Creek, B.C., seen on Saturday May 6, 2023. (Jordan Tucker/CBC)

Rising creek waters earlier in the week inundated parts of the village, flowing through its firehall, flooding several businesses and temporarily closing both Highway 1 and Highway 97.

"The water is staying in the channel now,'' said Cache Creek Mayor John Ranta. "And it doesn't seem to be flowing around or through the firehall the way it was the last few days.''

B.C. United MLA Jackie Tegart, whose Fraser-Nicola constituency includes Cache Creek, met with town residents Saturday. She said people are hopeful the worst of the flood threat is over.

"People are tired,'' said Tegart. "Holy cow, are they tired.''

An aerial view of a flooded downtown.
An aerial view of Cache Creek, B.C., flooding on May 3, 2023. (Kevin Scharfenberg)

On Sunday, about half of B.C. remained under flood watch, warning or advisory.

A flood warning also continued to be in place for Whiteman Creek in the Okanagan, where the Okanagan Indian Band said it will continue to monitor the situation while removing silt and debris to minimize the damage from rising water.

In Cache Creek, Ranta said while the village is still in the response phase of the emergency, there will also be a long cleanup process due to the flooding this past week.

"There's, you know, six or eight inches of silt and rocks and gravel and whatnot around the firehall,'' Ranta said. "And other businesses have work to do. They've got a fair bit of damage as a result of the flooding, and I think we'll be months in the recovery phase.''

The village is also remaining vigilant to new flooding that may arise, Ranta said.

Tegart said people in the area have told her they want the provincial government to engage in "big picture planning'' to try to limit the annual flood threat.

"Every year, people watch with trepidation as the freshet starts,'' Tegart said. "We know where the water comes up. Why aren't we doing the work before it happens?''

With files from Tom Popyk and the Canadian Press