2,000 evacuees free to return home in Kootenay Boundary region

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2,000 evacuees free to return home in Kootenay Boundary region

Officials have lifted evacuation orders for about 1,000 properties in the Kootenay Boundary region, two weeks after devastating flooding began.

It means nearly over 2,000 people are free to return to their homes or businesses today. 

The majority are in Grand Forks, with the others in Midway and Christina Lake.

Frances Maika, communications officer with the regional district, said people could be back in their homes well before noon — although they'll still be on evacuation alert.

"We're trying to be as fast as possible and as diligent as possible," she said.

This leaves 556 addresses on evacuation order and just over 900 people still waiting to return home.

Maika said for the last two days, damage assessment crews have been inspecting flooded homes in the region. Teams spent about half an hour in each building, deciding whether or not it's livable.

Emergency Operations Centre information officer Kevin McKinnon said there are about 1,400 inspections to be done.

Assessment teams are leaving green, yellow or red placards on businesses to indicate the severity of the damage.

The district said several hundred homes evacuated due to lost road access after flooding will be able to go home once the roads are clear again.

McKinnon says even though water levels are receding, home and business owners are still advised to leave their sandbags in place as a precaution.

"A green placard doesn't necessarily mean you can go back right away," he said.

"There are still evacuation orders in place."

Maika said residents can find most accurate evacuation order information — including a list of addresses affected by the rescinded order — on the district website.

Clean up

Many residents who have been able to return to their homes face a massive clean-up  job.

Lee Vevers, who spent tens of thousands of dollars renovating his trailer on the river banks, says the rushing water tore the deck right off his home.

"I'm lucky it didn't take the whole trailer with it," he said. "Still got a good frame. Good roof. Good walls."

Around 4,500 people have been forced out of their homes across the province this flood season. Thousands more are under evacuation alert, keeping a close eye on the weather.

With files from Jesse Johnston and David French