The third of three major rainfall events in the region since Nov. 25 resulted in localized flooding in Abbotsford this week, but did not raise water levels at the bottom of Sumas Prairie Lake.
Mayor Henry Braun, speaking at the city’s daily press conference on Tuesday afternoon, said levels at the bottom of the lake have dropped six inches in the past 24 hours. (A Wednesday press conference will be held this afternoon.)
But water levels have risen in other areas, causing localized flooding and road closures in the Matsqui Prairie and Sumas Plains. One of the main areas affected was the north side of Highway 1 on North Parallel Road near Whatcom Road.
Levels reached the point where evacuation orders were issued by late morning for Castle Fun Park, the Clarion Hotel and Units A to F at 2904 Glencoe Rd.
Evacuation orders were also issued Tuesday night for 36650 Lower Sumas Mtn. Rd. and 36598 Florence Drive.
A landslide on Sunday led to an evacuation order for Units 12-18 at 2842 Whatcom Rd.
Those ordinances were still in effect Wednesday morning, as was the one for Huntingdon Village, which saw water levels rise Monday after the Nooksack River in Washington state overran 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, floodwaters had begun to recede.
Clayburn Village in the Matsqui Prairie area is another area affected by localized flooding. Braun said the sandbags and sediment cleanup also prevented flooding from reaching homes and businesses in the area.
Another 20 to 40 millimeters of rain were expected through Wednesday, but the larger flooding situation has a “positive outlook,” Braun said at Tuesday’s news conference.
“Regional water modeling projections…for the next few days indicate stabilization of overall water levels in our region despite the rain we are receiving and will continue to receive (Wednesday),” he said. .
Braun said Whatcom County projections indicate that at this time the Nooksack River is not expected to overflow its banks again in the coming days.
“However, the situation remains fluid and there is still some uncertainty, and we will be monitoring the situation very closely.”
Braun said the gates at the Barrowtown pumping station remained open, allowing water from the Sumas River to flow into the Fraser River.
The mayor said rapid damage assessments have continued for affected homes and updates are expected in the coming days on the city’s return-to-home plans.
“As we continue to move towards recovery, our long-term focus – in partnership with the provincial and federal governments – will continue to be on how we will rebuild our critical infrastructure to ensure we do not suffer another event of this magnitude or worse,” Braun said.
He said supporting vital improvements “will make the difference between us and potentially facing another massive flood in the future which will impact our farmers and shut down key transport corridors”.
Braun said the city is also working closely with 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 from the first round of flooding on November 14-15. No reopening date has been estimated.
A Tiger blockade built on Highway 1 remains in place at Cole Road, and the highway is closed from McCallum Road in Abbotsford to Yale Road in Chilliwack until further notice.
Highway 7 from Mission to Agassiz is open for essential travel only.
Drivers are encouraged to check DriveBC for any updates.