Eleven families evacuated as flooding hits near Port Alberni, B.C.

By The Canadian Press
November 10, 2016 - 12:05am

PORT ALBERNI, B.C. — Wet weather is forcing evacuations on Vancouver Island and evacuation alerts in the Lower Mainland as rising waters threaten to flood homes.

Eleven families have been moved from the Tseshaht First Nation on Vancouver Island as the Somass River surges over its banks in low-lying areas west of Port Alberni, B.C.

An evacuation alert has also been issued for homes in Pemberton, B.C., and on the Lil’Wat First Nation, near Lillooet River. Drivers have also been warned to watch for high water levels, as creeks and rivers spill onto the road ways.

Tseshaht emergency preparedness co-ordinator Hugh Braker said the state of emergency has not been lifted and the river continued to rise Wednesday.

He said it will take some time for swollen waterways to subside and Highway 4 is closed in both directions by flooding just west of Port Alberni, while several other sections are threatened along the only route to Tofino and Ucluelet. 

The Tseshaht school is closed and a boil water advisory covers about half of the reserve, but Braker is optimistic that sandbagging of several threatened homes kept them dry Tuesday night.

He said the community is grateful for help from Vancouver Island residents and all that’s needed now is respite from the rain so water levels can fall.

The River Forecast Centre said a flood warning remains in place for both the Somass and its tributaries on the Island. The Village of Pemberton said in statement that a flood warning is also in effect for the Lillooet River and its tributaries near Pemberton.

A flood watch has also been posted for the Salmon River near Sayward, north of Campbell River, and watches continue for many waterways of the central island.

“We are expecting quite a deluge of rain on Thursday night,” Braker says. “And there’s another, third storm coming in on Sunday and we are not quite sure what is going to happen with that one.” 

The First Nation and the nearby city of Port Alberni were devastated by a flood in 2014, and Braker has said people are concerned this event could rival the previous disaster.

The Canadian Press

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