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RDKB EOC cautiously optimistic but prepared for possible rain

Flood protection works to stay in place this week until the RDKB and the City of Grand Forks EOC team have more confidence in amount of rain forecast for the upcoming weekend. Residents are asked to keep sandbags in place as well. Photo courtesy Red Dragon Consulting for the RDKB

The RDKB Emergency Operation Centre said Wednesday it will maintain evacuation alerts for 127 properties across the Boundary, and evacuation orders for 13 properties in the City of Grand Forks and Electoral Area D/Rural Grand Forks until at least June 4, when weekend weather forecasts are more certain.

Seven properties in Manly Meadows east of Grand Forks and six properties on Beatrice St. in Johnson Flats have been on evacuation order since June 1, and were on order once previously on May 19. These properties still have floodwater in the area, an existing flood threat even at typical freshet river levels or a lack of access.

Environment Canada is forecasting unsettled weather this week with a mix of sun and cloud, a chance of occasional showers, and near-seasonal temperatures, but more frequent showers are possible this weekend and amounts of precipitation could range from 10 millimetres to 50 millimetres at the most extreme.

“Our Operations Team is taking advantage of the good weather and lower river levels to fly some specific sites along the Kettle River with a drone, as well as visit sites in person to look at ongoing flood risk and damage from floodwaters to this point,” said Mark Stephens, EOC Director.

“We want to get everyone back home as soon as we can and are very aware how stressful ongoing evacuation orders and alerts can be.”

Stephens said the EOC will reassess all alerts and orders on June 4 based on precipitation forecasts, and that flood protection such as the Tiger dam in downtown Grand Forks, and the 68th street berm as well as the sandbag berm in South Ruckle will remain in place until June 7.

“The trauma of our 2018 flood is still fresh, and I know from my own pain over the last few days that this freshet has exposed enormous anxiety and stress in our community. I want everyone to know that we are working as a team to get through this and turn our attention to proactive and positive projects, like planning for our new community centre and our recreational trails master plan,” said Roly Russell, Director for Area D/Rural Grand Forks.

“The City of Grand Forks has seen already that the work we have done to protect against flooding since 2018 has helped us keep water out of town and away from most homes. Like Director Russell I want to know we’re safe from more flooding so we can refocus on reopening businesses and welcoming people back to our beautiful city as soon as our provincial restart process is its next phase,” said Brian Taylor, Mayor of Grand Forks.

Crews will prioritize demobilizing flood protection in front of businesses first, beginning on June 8 if weather and river levels allow.

A High Streamflow Advisory from the BC River Forecast Centre remains in effect. This means river levels could still rise rapidly, but that no major flooding is expected in the coming days. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is still possible.

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 3 and is prepared for any ongoing emergency response that may be required.

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.

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.

An EOC call centre has been set up for Boundary residents and is staffed from 8 am to 4 pm daily. The toll-free number for the call centre is 1-888-747-9119.

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