British Columbia

Town of Princeton swamped after floodwaters breach dike

Princeton's mayor says half of the downtown area is under water and there is a boil water advisory due to potential contamination from flooding.

Town of 3,000 residents has declared a state of emergency

Two people canoe down a flooded street in Princeton, B.C., on Monday. (Tom Popyk/CBC)

The mayor of Princeton, B.C., says half the town is under water after extreme rains pushed the Tulameen and Similkameen rivers to overflow their banks and dikes.

"The water level came up so fast that we couldn't get ahead of it. It just kept coming and coming," said Spencer Coyne. "There's a number of [dike] breaches. Houses are under water, cars are gone."

Coyne said water levels were about 150 centimetres higher than the previous worst flood in memory, which hit the town in 1995.

Rescue teams went door to door, searching buildings that were under water for people who might be trapped inside.

No one has been reported missing or injured, according to Coyne.

More than 290 properties were forced to evacuate Sunday because of the rising water levels. Another 100 were placed on evacuation alert.

Some residents were seen using boats to travel along streets. A boil water advisory is in place due to potential contamination from the flooding.

Much of the town of Princeton, B.C., was under water Monday. (Submitted by Misty Oceanna)

The Tulameen River breached two dikes protecting the town early Monday, with water levels peaking between 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.

Close to 3,000 people live in Princeton. The town has declared a state of emergency and Coyne said they are coordinating with provincial emergency officials.

He said his message to residents is to be patient and resilient.

"Our hearts are with you. We're doing our best. Our crews are out. We'll get through this together," he said.

Princeton is about 190 kilometres east of Vancouver.

With files from David French