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Heavy rain sets off flooding, rocks and mudslides in southern B.C.

The Canadian Press
Heavy rain sets off flooding, rocks and mudslides in southern B.C.
SHUTTERSTOCK

VANCOUVER – A local state of emergency has been declared in part of British Columbia’s eastern Fraser Valley where unrelenting rainfall caused flooding, mud and rock slides and the closure of highways to and from the southern Interior.

Environment Canada said 225 millimetres of rain had deluged the community of Hope since the storm began Saturday and 180 millimetres had fallen around Agassiz and Chilliwack.

The District of Kent, which includes Agassiz, issued a local state of emergency after landslides severed Highway 7. Maintenance crews said they were forced to wait until first light to confirm reports of trapped vehicles.

Flood warnings and watches were issued for areas from Merritt south to the United States border, the lower Fraser region and sections of southern Vancouver Island.

Rising rivers or landslides also prompted evacuation orders in Merritt, Agassiz, Abbotsford and in Princeton, where a dike burst Monday morning, forcing residents of about 200 properties from their homes. In Merritt, rising river waters overwhelmed the city’s water system and residents were ordered to “immediately cease” all water use.

“Anything that goes down a drain must stop now,” the city said in an urgent message posted on social media.

The weather office said a further 50 millimetres of rain could drench the eastern Fraser Valley. Rain, snow and wind warnings covered most of the southern third of the province.

The city of Abbotsford opened a reception centre Sunday for residents who couldn’t get home or who were forced out because of mudslides or flooding at several locations.

The city said in a statement that the slides cut off several routes, and those who needed shelter or assistance could go to the Abbotsford Recreational Centre.

Environment Canada said rain along the coast and snow in the eastern part of the province wasn’t expected to let up until sometime Monday. About 50 centimetres blanketed Highway 1 through the Rogers Pass and another 25 centimetres was expected.

“The snow level is expected to briefly rise to near Rogers Pass this afternoon, and snow may change to rain,” said the weather office post. “However, rain will change back to snow this evening and additional accumulations are possible before the snow eases to scattered flurries late tonight.”

Forecasters also warned of powerful winds over Victoria, Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Canyon later in the day – with gusts up to 90 km/h – which could possibly add to power outages that affected more than 16,000 customers, mainly in the eastern Fraser Valley, on Sunday night.

©2021 The Canadian Press

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