North Shore flooding: Cleanup underway at high school and homes in Lynn Valley
School closed, road blocked off as residents bail out after 80 mm of rain fell in North Vancouver
Works crews are busy on Metro Vancouver's North Shore, where cleanup continues after heavy rains caused localized flash flooding and the evacuation of a number of homes late Monday night.
With more than 80 millimetres of rain falling in some areas where the ground was already saturated, storm drains backed up and creeks overflowed, flooding streets in at least five different locations in West Vancouver and North Vancouver, with one area of Lynn Valley hit particularly hard.
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District of North Vancouver Fire Chief Victor Penman said that the significant amount of rain,almost 100 millimetres in 24 hours, just overwhelmed the drainage systems.
"Last night, I think we had pretty much every emergency response unit on the road for the majority of the evening. This morning it's much more of a recovery, cleanup mode. Significant amount of debris and things on the road in the affected areas—particularly in Lynn Valley," he said.
District of North Vancouver Assistant Fire Chief Michael Cairns said that a culvert at one of the many creeks in the area became plugged, triggered a backup and overflowed.
"The river then found its path around the culvert, and found another pathway. It came out on Kilmer [Road] and down here on Fromme. There are quite a few houses on Kilmer with heavy flood damage," he said.
High school, homes flooded
Argyle Secondary School, off Frederick Road near Fromme Road, was closed Tuesday morning, after water rushed in and inundated nine classrooms and the drama department's prop room Monday night.
School principal Elizabeth Bell said the plan is to reopen Wednesday, but that would depend on the progress of the cleanup.
"We need to make sure that the water is out," she said. "There is probably going to be some of the classrooms that will need some refurbing, and [we] may be out of classrooms for a few days. We need to come up with an adequate plan to ensure the kind of environment that we need for them to get back on track."
Residents in the area reported seeing about 15 centimetres of water running down Fromme Road, as fire crews and police officers went door to door where water was running down into people's garages.
Officials estimate that between 30 and 40 homes were impacted by the flooding.
'It was coming through the walls'
In the hardest-hit areas of Lynn Valley, a number of homes were evacuated and at least 23 people were displaced late Monday night. Fire crews broke into one home on Fromme, which had water half way up its front door, to make sure no one was trapped inside.
A number of residents said they woke up only to find themselves in the middle of a river. Max Ely, who lives in Lynn Valley, was asleep Monday night when the flash flood hit.
"My sister wakes me up, and then I go down and everything is flooded. And the walls — it was coming through the walls. Busted through the walls. It was crazy. I've never seen anything like that," he said.
As of Tuesday morning, crews in North Vancouver had closed Fromme Road and set up concrete blocks to try and stop any more overflow water from reaching houses.
Mark Healy, another Lynn Valley resident, said he is facing a large cleanup task.
"We've probably got three or four tonnes of debris right here. The garage is still ankle-deep in mud, and probably two-thirds of the floor plate is flooded at the moment," he told CBC News.
Healy said it appears that only the garage and bottom floor of his home were damaged. If power is restored, his family will sleep at home tonight, he said.
District of North Vancouver officials said three to five homes in the Fromme and Kilmer area received "significant damage." Officials also said work crews should have a majority of the mess on the roads and sidewalks cleared by the end of the day.
Deep Cove businesses flooded
On Gallant Avenue in Deep Cove, another creek backed up and flooded local businesses, including the Arms Reach Bistro.
Seymour Art Gallery and Deep Cove theatre volunteer Michael Smith said he was bailing water from 3 a.m.—but it could have been a lot worse.
The flooding was confined to one side of Gallant Avenue however, and the area's famous Honey's Donuts still opened for customers on Tuesday.
Emergency response crews were also called out Monday night to the Cliffridge area in Grousewoods, where residents affected by localized flooding there were requesting sandbags. Crews also responded to Platt Crescent in Lynn Valley, where a tree fell, taking down power lines and rupturing a gas line.
The West Vancouver Fire Department was also busy Monday night, responding to multiple calls of flooding in homes and reports of local flooding on streets in the Dundarave area.
Steve Ono, the general manager of engineering with the District of North Vancouver, said that geotechnical and hydrotechnical engineers are going to be assessing what happened with last night's overflows, particularly at Kilmer and Fromme roads.
"Then we'll see if we need to rethink some of that infrastructure up there," he said. "I think it was really just a matter of Mother Nature overwhelming us with a small series of slides and material that came down and blocked the actual input point to the pipe."
With files from the CBC's Richard Zussman, Tim Weekes, and Kirk Williams