Grand Forks, B.C., residents work to save properties from flooding
Dirty floodwater has washed over downtown streets, soaking many businesses
Residents of Grand Forks, B.C., are working around the clock to try to keep dry as many properties as possible, but with water reaching historic heights, many homes and businesses are filling up with dirty floodwater.
The water crested in the downtown area overnight, but remains much higher than the levels seen in 1948, the last time the town experienced terrible flooding.
Crews are sandbagging wherever possible and trying to find enough generators to keep pumps going with the town's power knocked out due to a flooded substation.
Stuart McGregor stayed awake for more than 24 hours as he worked to keep his restaurant, Thyme and Plate, dry and all the food refrigerated.
"[I've] been up all night manning pumps. We had tons of help yesterday, I mean dozens of trucks and people coming to help sandbag. We might have gone a little overboard, but we're dry, so we're good," McGregor said Friday.
"I've walked up and down and pretty much everybody's flooded here, so we're just lucky, I guess," he said, adding that most businesses other than his have basements that have filled up.
"Now, the power's down here in town, so our next worry is, we've got $15,000 worth of product in the fridges and freezers that we need to get out of here or get some electricity to."
McGregor said he expects the hot weather and snow melt in the area will bring the water back up before everything dries up.
"I've lived here since I was six years old, now I'm 40. I've never seen anything like this at all," he said. "It was bad in the '90s once — I haven't seen anything like this, so this is pretty epic."
Just outside the downtown area, a large group of volunteers — many of them children and teens whose classes were cancelled on Friday — were filling sandbags.
Jackson Phipps, 16, was in the crowd, sweating in the heat. The teen estimated he had filled more than 500 sandbags in the last few days.
"I feel good, but I am worried about everyone else, because I don't know where they're going to go," said Phipps, adding that his family's home was dry.
Phipps said Omega, the downtown restaurant where he works, is flooded and closed, so he can't go to work.
"Everyone downtown. It's all under water. People are getting evacuated," he said.
Frances Maika, information officer for the Regional District of Kootenay-Boundary emergency operations centre, said emergency responders have shifted to carrying out rescues in many cases, where people who chose not to leave their homes are now struggling, since the pumps they were relying on have lost power.
"Now, they're trapped in their homes, so we have ongoing rescue of a number of residents," said Maika, adding that the firehall downtown has also been inundated.
"There's some good news stories here, in that we have not had reports of injuries — we've had close calls," she said.
According to Maika, many residents have checked in at the emergency shelter, but she couldn't say exactly how many. Most, she said, appear to be finding places to stay with friends or family.
Maika said crews are assessing damage, and it's not clear how many of the 160 local residences that were under evacuation order were actually cleared out.
"The emergency responders have been unbelievable; they've been staying up day and night," she said, adding that the end still isn't in sight.
"The water levels aren't necessarily going to come down quickly ... this is going to be with us for a while."
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