Water rushing down Sportsmens Bowl Road near the junction with Highway 97 spills over stacks of sandbags, even as B.C. Wildfire Service crews work to bolster the area’s barriers. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News)

B.C. steps up flood response as interior braces for snow melt

Wildfire-ravaged communities brace for spring floods

The province is stepping up its flood prevention measures as it gets ready for the spring snowmelt.

Parts of the southern interior are already seeing heavy flooding as nearly 150 homes were evacuated in Tulameen this weekend.

The Cariboo region has also been hit and the Nazko Valley, about 100 kilometres west of Quesnel, has been evacuated.

In an update earlier this month, the province’s River Forecast Centre said that the provincial snowpack of nearly 130 per cent of average (calculated from a 60-year average) could lead to heavy flooding, particularly in the wildfire-ravage portions of the interior.

READ: Highways reopened, but Cache Creek braces for more flooding

Heavy melts in those regions could lead to riverbank erosion, as well as damage to dikes.

“Due to the fires, there’ll be a lot more debris in rivers going downstream … which can lead to erosion along banks and dykes,” hydrologist Jonathan Boyd told reporters last week.

READ: B.C.’s snowpack continues to increase, melting delayed

The flood risk from a snowpack of above 135 per cent is classified as extreme, leading to concerns for the Okanagan where the snowpack sits at 152 per cent.

To help coordinate the flood response, the province has activated its Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre near Saanich and the Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centres in Kamloops, Prince George and in Nelson to help out local governments.

So far, two million sandbags have been used to help protect homes and public buildings with the help of six sandbag machines and 140 BC Wildfire Service firefighters, who have been deployed throughout the province.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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