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Six properties ordered to evacuate in Johnson Flats near Grand Forks

The RDKB ordered 15 people to evacuate their homes in the early hours of May 19 when the Kettle River flowed across roads in the Beatrice Road area of Johnson Flats near Grand Forks. — RDKB photo

Early Tuesday morning at approximately 1:30 a.m., the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Emergency Operations Centre ordered six properties to evacuate when the Kettle River breached an illegally constructed berm, cutting off access to six homes in Johnson Flats near Grand Forks, possibly damaging some structures.

 The RDKB said high rainfall in areas in the Boundary on May 17 and 18 led the Kettle River to peak overnight on May 18.

The RDKB said no one has been injured and several of the 15 residents affected have chosen to remain in their homes while others have left to stay with family or friends in the area.

 “It’s always distressing for anyone who has to leave their homes on short notice, and we are doing everything we can as a regional district to address the needs these families will have over the coming week until they can return home,” said Mark Stephens, EOC Director in a media release Tuesday.

“ESS Volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross will be supporting affected residents while our EOC operations team assesses the situation.”

 The RDKB said two more homes in Manly Meadows near Grand Forks were also placed on evacuation alert in addition to the seven homes placed on evacuation alert May 18 bringing the total to nine properties on evacuation alert in Manly Meadows and six on evacuation order in Johnson Flats in rural Grand Forks. Evacuation alerts may be followed by an immediate order to evacuate should conditions worsen.

 “We’re really grateful for the support we received overnight from the City of Grand Forks Fire Department who were able to notify these residents quickly and make sure everyone was safe,” said Diane Langman, RDKB Board Chair and lead of the EOC Policy Group.

 “The City of Grand Forks has been instrumental in our emergency operations centre and we have seen teamwork across our regional district with municipalities and electoral areas supporting one another to prepare for and respond to this freshet season.”

The RDKB said while flood levels are still at a two-year return level —or at levels typically seen in a normal freshet year— changes to the river from catastrophic flooding in 2018 have altered flow patterns and eroded some areas that may not have seen flooding at existing river levels in past years.

Water levels in the West Kettle, Kettle and Granby rivers are not forecast to surpass a two to five-year return level.

 The RDKB continues to monitor all creeks and rivers and track BC River Forecast Centre model is maintaining its Emergency Operations Centre at a Level 2 for the next week in preparation for any emergency response that may be required.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) encourages residents to monitor low-lying areas for potential impacts from rising groundwater with some flooding as we move into the weekend

 The High Streamflow Advisory issued by BC River Forecast Centre on May 6 is still remains in effect for the Boundary Region including the Kettle River, West Kettle River, Granby River and tributaries.

 Sandbags and sand are currently available for residents in the following locations free of charge:

  • Beaverdell behind the Fire Hall
  • Westbridge Hall
  • Riverside Centre in Rock Creek
  • Grand Forks Arena

Residents must bring their own tools and equipment (shovels, transportation) and respect a physical distance of two metres (six feet) between workers as they fill sandbags.

Residents in the Boundary who are most at risk of flooding should stay informed about local freshet conditions, and ensure they have considered plans for moving valuable items, livestock or other items to safe locations if required. The RDKB also asks everyone to stay well away from the edges of creeks and rivers as banks become unstable during high water.

For more information about snow and river levels as well as how to prepare for the 2020 freshet, visit emergency.rdkb.com.

To register for the RDKB Emergency Alerting System go to https://ca.voyent-alert.com/vras/user-registration.html. The RDKB warns everyone to stay away from the edges of watercourses and report any erosion or flooding to the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre at 1-800-663-3456.

The RDKB will continue to update the public as new information is available.