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RDKB, RDCK announce lifting of evacuation alerts due to flooding

The RDKB and the City of Grand Forks will gradually start removing flood protection works in stages in the Grand Forks area now that river levels are dropping. Residents are advised to keep sandbags in place in case a change in weather causes rivers to rise again before the end of the freshet. — Photo courtesy of Red Dragon Consulting

In separate media releases, Regional Districts in the Central Kootenay and Kootenay Boundary announced the lifting all evacuation alerts in their respective areas Tuesday.

In the RDKB, the Emergency Operations Centre rescinded an evacuation alert for 1136 properties affecting about 2200 people in the Boundary from Carmi on the West Kettle River to Christina Lake, leaving no properties in the region on evacuation alert or order due to the 2020 freshet.

In the RDCK, Evacuation Alerts for, Crawford Creek (Crawford Bay) in electoral Area A; Duhamel Creek (Nelson) in electoral Area FB; Salmo/Ymir in electoral Area G; Slocan River drainage region in electoral Areas H and I and Broadwater Rd. (Robson) in electoral Area J have all been removed.

 The BC River Forecast Centre (BCRFC) lifted its High Streamflow Advisory for the RDKB on June 8, and Environment Canada forecasted continued cool weather for the coming week — both events mean the threat of flooding has diminished enough to make the evacuation alerts unnecessary.

The June 1 BCRFC Snow Survey and Water Supply Bulletin shows the Boundary snowpack is at 211 per cent of normal, but this percentage is relative to the amount of snow normally left in June each spring, and reflects data from only two of four snow sampling sites that report information to the BCRFC this late in the season. Most snow in the Boundary has now melted.

““The high numbers connected to our snowpack don’t tell the whole story,” ,” said Mark Stephens, EOC Director in a media release Tuesday.

“There are two sites, Big White and Grano Creek, which still show snow, but across the Boundary we are starting to see most sites melted out.

“Our main risk factors in this freshet are what they’ve always been – how warm it gets and how fast, and how much warm rain we get at any one time, especially on top of that melting snow.”

In the RDCK, The BC River Forecast Centre lifted its High Streamflow Advisory for the Salmo River, Slocan River and all tributaries. River levels have been improving over the past week due to cooler weather and diminished rainfall.

Given the potential of the incoming weather systems to generate thunderstorms, more isolated flooding events on smaller streams are possible in the short term, but will be highly dependent on precipitation.

“While there is still risk of flooding this season, at this time the risk is less imminent so we will be removing all Evacuation Alerts in the region,” said Chris Johnson, RDCK Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) Director.

“With the remaining high-elevation snowpack still being fairly significant, we will be monitoring the weather closely. If there is indication of another hot spell followed by a precipitation event, or a weather system with significant rainfall associated, the RDCK will reassess the need to put Evacuation Alerts on. Please do stay alert, we are not through freshet yet.”

With the current snowpack still healthy, above 1800 to 2000m throughout much of the RDCK, freshet season is expected to last another 3-4 weeks. Residents are advised to keep sandbags on hand. Sandbags and sand remain available to all residents at any of the locations listed on the RDCK website: www.rdck.ca/befloodprepared.

The recent flooding event resulted in washed out roads, culvert blockage, erosion, logjams, and property damage due to flooding, erosion or wind. The RDCK has been working with local and provincial authorities to assess all the damage throughout the region.

A reminder to RDCK residents;  if you have any issues with public roads, power lines, or gas lines, please contact Yellowhead Road and Bridge 1-888-630-1420, BC Hydro 1-800-224-9376 or Fortis BC  1-800-663-9911 directly. 

The RDKB and the City of Grand Forks will gradually start removing Tiger dams and earthen berms in stages in the Grand Forks area, beginning with flood protection in front of downtown businesses.

“This is great news that our river levels are dropping and that our flood risk is reducing. But it doesn’t mean anyone should rush out to remove their sandbags yet,” said Stephens.

"The 2020 freshet is still going on and we know that if we did get extreme amounts of rain, that could raise the flood risk again."

The RDKB continues to monitor all creeks and rivers and track BC River Forecast Centre and Environment Canada weather information. The RDKB Emergency Operations Centre is activated to Level 2 and is prepared for any ongoing emergency response that may be required.