British Columbia

Flooding causes evacuations near Port Alberni, Courtenay

Flood watches continue in several coastal communities across B.C.'s South Coast as residents brace for more heavy rain and one of the worst combination of storm surge-king tide that the province has seen.

Several communities have already declared local states of emergency over flooding, storm surge

Logs wash up on Campbell River

9 years ago
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Many communities on Vancouver Island are on evacuation watch

The storm raging on the West Coast of B.C. has forced some residents on Vancouver Island to evacuate their homes. 

In Port Alberni, 22 homes on the Tseshaht Reserve have been evacuated and in Courtenay, more than 50 residents of a year-round trailer park have been asked to evacuate.

The flood watch continues in several coastal communities across B.C.'s South Coast as residents brace for more heavy rain and one of the worst combinations of storm surge and king tide that the province has seen.

The storm is the third to lash the region in three days and comes as king tides raise water levels along the coast. King tides are unusually strong tides that occur around the solstice because of the relative positions of the sun and moon to the Earth.

BC Hydro reported that several thousand customers on northern Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast and Metro Vancouver lost power on Wednesday because of the storm.

There will not be much of a break in the weather before the fourth and final storm in the series slides up the Washington coast, bringing wind and rain through Thursday afternoon. The weather is expected to improve on Friday when a drier, cooler system moves in for the weekend.

As the third storm leaves the West Coast, the final one is making its way in. The stream of moisture is slamming into almost the entire west coast of the U.S. (CBC News)

Sandbagging and flood watches

Delta declared a local state of emergency after surging sea water during high tide caused a seawall in front of a home on Boundary Bay to collapse. The municipality cancelled the state of emergency at 2 p.m. PT, but staff will continue to monitor the tides and crews will be inspecting dikes throughout the municipality. 

As of 3 p.m. PT, Port Alberni had received the most rain in the province, with 190.8 mm of rain since Monday, according to Environment Canada. That was followed by Courtenay, also on Vancouver Island, which received 150 mm of rain. 

Courtenay, which declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, has put its residents who live near the Tsolum, Puntledge and Oyster rivers on an evacuation alert. 

The outlined area is under evacuation orders, according to the City of Courtenay. (City of Courtenay)

In Vancouver, crews laid out sandbags along NW Marine Drive near Jericho Beach on Tuesday to prevent any flooding.

On Vancouver Island, officials in the Campbell River area went door to door on Tuesday warning residents that they could be flooded out during high tide Wednesday. City workers are standing by with sandbags ready to be placed wherever they're needed. 

A man was rescued after he was trapped in the basement of his home during a mudslide caused by heavy rains in Dashwood, B.C. His wife was able to escape from their two-storey house and he has now been airlifted to hospital. 

The Nanaimo Regional District has also declared a local state of emergency for Parry's RV Park on the Englishman River. Residents of the Nanaimo River and French Creek areas are also warned to be prepared for flooding as water levels rise.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre has also upgraded flood warnings and watches for parts of Vancouver Island and the Central Coast.

Climate change

UBC climatologist Simon Donner said this week's storms are just a taste of what the Lower Mainland will be face in the future as the climate changes. 

While king tides are a natural phenomenon, Donner said sea levels are rising by 3 mm annually due to global warming and human activity. If sea levels keep rising at this rate, the king tide-storm surge combination could have devastating effects in coastal regions of the Pacific

"Things we love here in Vancouver ... Stanley Park, Kits beach, the seawall, they'll no longer be functional. They'll be gone," he said.

"We live in a coastal city and we're going to have to get used to this and to not plan our infrastructure and future around it would be crazy"

The city of Vancouver has adopted a climate adaptation strategy and starting in January, it will change the way buildings are constructed along the city's shore.

With files from The Canadian Press