British Columbia

Pemberton residents begin cleanup after heavy flooding

As water levels slowly recede in the village of Pemberton, residents are beginning to survey the damage from Wednesday's floods.

Water levels going down but damage is extensive

Early Wednesday, water from the swollen Lillooet river flooded the North Arm farm in Pemberton and caused extensive damage. (Emma Sturdy)

As water levels slowly recede in Pemberton, residents are beginning to survey the damage from Wednesday's floods.

Heavy rainfall — combined with snow melt and warmer temperatures — caused local rivers to swell and flood certain areas.

The rainfall prompted a number of evacuation alerts in the Pemberton area and at nearby First Nation reserves.

Emma Sturdy with the family-owned North Arm farm said flooding caused significant damage to the property.

"It's just completely water. You can see we have some kale sticking up, but our kale is nearly two feet tall. You can barely see it, so you can imagine how deep the water is out there," said Sturdy.

But Sturdy said the situation is improving.

"Water levels have been consistently going down, but we will be left with quite a bit of standing water on the field."

Fast-moving water

Sturdy said it was around 9 a.m. PT Wednesday when the Lillooet river — right next to the farm —  started overflowing.

"It was an insane situation. A lot of [our staff] had never seen it before," said Sturdy.

She said they had to act fast to take machinery, crops and livestock to an area of higher elevation.

"We had this rowboat in the chicken coup. It was my father and my sister and I and we were just up to our hips in water tossing chickens from the coup into this rowboat to get them onto the mound [hill]," said Sturdy.

Emma Sturdy said though water levels have dropped significantly there is still plenty of standing water covering crops. (Emma Sturdy)

"Our pig decided that she didn't actually like the mound and she would prefer to go back home. So we had to chase her as she's swimming through the water."

Sturdy said luckily, most of the crops were harvested, but it was a scramble to make sure those crops were kept away from the water.

There is extensive damage to the farm's fence, the home, as well as some crops that remain underwater

"It's unfortunate because we have 30,000 garlic heads underneath about three or four feet of water right now," said Sturdy.

Flood warnings downgraded

Water levels are going down and the B.C. River Forecast Centre has downgraded the flood warning  for the Lillooet River to a high streamflow advisory.

It has also ended the flood watch for the Squamish River.

Pemberton mayor Mike Richman said the regional district will be keeping an eye on water levels and the weather.

"We're going to watch and see to what levels the river drops and what capacity they gain over the next 12 hours," said Richman

"We'll also watch the forecast closely — we're supposed to get another system on the heels of this one, but it looks like it should be fairly minor."

Late Wednesday, the Lil'Wat Nation issued an evacuation order for some of its residents.