Debris from receding flood waters is pictured along a road as heavy rains form an atmospheric river continue in Abbotsford, B.C., Tuesday, November 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Debris from receding flood waters is pictured along a road as heavy rains form an atmospheric river continue in Abbotsford, B.C., Tuesday, November 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

So far, Fraser Valley mostly holding back the tide from latest atmospheric river

Some localized flooding, but Sumas Prairie water levels stable as rainfall peak begins to pass

The third of three major rainfalls in the region since Nov. 25 brought localized flooding to Abbotsford this week but did not raise the water levels in the Sumas Prairie lake bottom.

Mayor Henry Braun, speaking at the city’s daily press conference Tuesday afternoon, said levels in the lake bottom had dropped six inches over the previous 24 hours. (A Wednesday press conference will be held this afternoon.)

But water levels did rise in others areas, causing localized flooding and road closures on Matsqui Prairie and the Sumas flats. One of the main areas affected was the north side of Highway 1 on North Parallel Road near Whatcom Road.

The levels reached the point where evacuation orders were issued in the late morning for Castle Fun Park, the Clarion Hotel and units A to F at 2904 Glencoe Rd.

Evacuation orders were also issued Tuesday evening for 36650 Lower Sumas Mtn. Rd. and 36598 Florence Drive.

On Sunday, a mudslide led to an evacuation order for units 12-18 at 2842 Whatcom Rd.

Those orders were still all in effect as of Wednesday morning, as was one for Huntingdon Village, which saw rising water levels on Monday after the Nooksack River in Washington State topped its banks.

But due to sandbagging efforts over the weekend by volunteers and the military, the waters did not reach homes in the area. By Tuesday, the floodwaters had started to abate.

Another area experiencing localized flooding was Clayburn Village in the Matsqui Prairie region. Braun said sandbagging and sediment-clearing there also held back the flooding from reaching homes and businesses in the area.

Another 20 to 40 millimetres of rain was expected through Wednesday, but the larger flooding situation has a “positive forecast,” Braun said at Tuesday’s press conference.

“Regional water modelling projections … for the next few days indicate a stabilization of overall water levels across our region despite the rain that we are receiving and will continue to receive into (Wednesday),” he said.

Braun said projections from Whatcom County indicate that, at this time, the Nooksack River is not expected to overflow its banks again in the next few days.

“However, the situation remains fluid and there is still some uncertainty, and we will be monitoring the situation very closely.”

Braun said the floodgates at the Barrowtown Pump Station have remained open, allowing water from the Sumas River to flow into the Fraser River.

The mayor said rapid damage assessments have continued of impacted homes, and updates are expected in the coming days on the city’s return-to-home plans.

“As we continue to move toward recovery, our long-term focus – in partnership with the provincial and federal governments – will continue to be on how we are going to rebuild our critical infrastructure to ensure that we do not experience another event of this magnitude or worse,” Braun said.

He said support for vital upgrades “will make the difference between us potentially dealing with another mass flooding event in the future that impacts our farmers and shuts down key transportation corridors.”

Braun said the city is also working closely with both the Sumas and Matsqui First Nations in their recovery efforts.

Meanwhile, Highway 11 (the Abbotsford-Mission Highway) remains closed to traffic from McCallum Road to Old Clayburn Road due to damage caused by the first round of flooding on Nov. 14 and 15. There has been no estimated reopening date.

A Tiger Dam built across Highway 1 remains in place at Cole Road, and the freeway is closed from McCallum Road in Abbotsford to Yale Road in Chilliwack until further notice.

Highway 7 from Mission to Agassiz is open to essential travel only.

Drivers are advised to check DriveBC for any updates.

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