British Columbia

Help arrives as threat of flooding rises again in B.C.

More than 300 Canadian Armed Forces members are on their way to help B.C. communities overwhelmed by floodwaters as they brace themselves for a second round of flooding in the coming days.

Many rivers are expected hit peak levels again over the Victoria Day weekend

A member of the Canadian Armed Forces helps with sandbagging in Grand Forks, B.C., on Friday. (Tina Lovgreen/CBC)

More than 300 Canadian Armed Forces members are on their way to help B.C. communities overwhelmed by floodwaters as they brace themselves for a second round of flooding in the coming days.

The Forces said staff from Joint Task Force Pacific and personnel from the 3rd Canadian Division based in Edmonton were to establish themselves in Vernon yesterday, before being deployed to areas affected by flooding, including Grand Forks.

Across the province, about 4,500 people have been forced out of their homes, while 7,000 residents have been placed on evacuation alert as the threat of flooding rises.

Break in the weather today

Officials in the central Okanagan have warned residents that water levels on Okanagan Lake are expected to rise once again to the record levels seen during the widespread floods of 2017.

Friday morning, 45 members of the Armed Forces headed to West Kelowna to assist crews from the B.C. Wildfire Service and the city in shoring up the waterfront.

Several rivers in the Interior are also expected to peak over the weekend, bringing a second round of flooding to many communities hit last week. Flood warnings are in effect for the Slocan River in the Central Kootenay as well as the Boundary region's Kettle River, West Kettle River, Granby River and surrounding tributaries.

CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe says the Boundary region, which has already been ravaged by flooding, may get a break from rain Friday as the wet weather moves west to the coast and temperatures and freezing levels will drop in the Interior.

But on Saturday, a hot dry system will move in from the Prairies, which will dry out the Interior and bump temperatures up to the mid-20s, increasing the rate of snow melting in the mountains again.

Environment Canada has lifted a special weather statement that had forecast up to 40 millimetres of rain for the Boundary and Similkameen regions.

School and highway closures

Four boil water notices are in effect in the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen because of high waters. Users of the Naramata, Sage Mesa, Sun Valley and Willowbrook water systems have been told to boil their water for at least a minute before consuming.

Meanwhile the Kootenay Lake School District decided there will be no schools open in the Salmo area today because of an evacuation alert issued for the area yesterday.

A mudslide also stopped traffic in Kootenay Pass on Highway 3 after a large debris flow came down on the highway last night about 30 kilometres west of Creston.

A geotechnical assessment is planned for Friday morning. In the meantime there is a detour available via the Kootenay Lake ferry which takes about 2½ hours. Check DriveBC for updates.

A mudslide closed Highway 3 in the Kootenay Pass on Thursday. (@TranBC_WestKoot/Twitter)

The City of Merritt has issued an evacuation order for the Bedford Apartments on Garcia street where a rise in groundwater in some of the units along with sewage backup has created unsanitary living conditions.

The apartments have not been affected by overland flooding. Conditions for the Nicola River remain unchanged. No other evacuations are being contemplated in the area.

Closer to the coast, the District of Hope says the Fraser River is expected to rise to levels seen during the floods of 2012, and some localized flooding is expected. Residents of 44 homes have been told to be on alert in case an evacuation is necessary.

Resident Lars Androsoff carries his friend's guitars as he walks through the floodwaters in Grand Forks on Thursday. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

With files from The Canadian Press