Evacuation orders issued near Terrace as Skeena River threatens to flood small communities

·2 min read
The City of Terrace activated its emergency operations centre on Wednesday in anticipation of possible flooding.  (Carolina de Ryk/CBC - image credit)
The City of Terrace activated its emergency operations centre on Wednesday in anticipation of possible flooding. (Carolina de Ryk/CBC - image credit)

The Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine has issued an evacuation order for three small communities near Terrace as the Skeena River continues to rise after a weekend of heavy rain and snowmelt.

Residents of Old Remo, New Remo, and Usk were told to leave their homes by 8 p.m. Sunday. The district issued an evacuation alert on Thursday.

The communities, built on low-lying flood plains, have faced flood crises over the past two decades. Old Remo was flooded in 2002, 2007 and 2017, seeing roads washed out and dozens of homes evacuated.

After a weekend of unpredictable rain and thunderstorms, fears of flooding are increasing in northern B.C., while subsiding in the southern Interior.

Janet Munson
Janet Munson

On Sunday, the B.C. River Forecast Centre released its latest assessment of the provincewide flood risk.

The Liard River and its tributaries around Fort Nelson have been upgraded to a flood watch. The river is flowing at two-year highs at Lower Crossing, and at 10- to 20-year highs upstream at Scurvy Creek in Yukon.

Hydrologists are maintaining a flood watch for the Skeena River and Buckley River watersheds, and have issued a high streamflow advisory for the Swift River and other streams in the province's northwest.

Environment and Climate Change Canada is forecasting 15 millimetres of precipitation for Smithers, with more precipitation possible at higher elevations. Rain falling on a melting snowpack in the mountains increases the risk for rapid river rises, the B.C. River Forecast Centre warned in its update.

B.C. River Forecast Centre
B.C. River Forecast Centre

Hydrologists had put parts of the southern Interior on a flood watch on Saturday, as thunderstorms moved through Interior mountains still heavy with winter snowpack.

On Sunday, conditions in the East Okanagan, Kettle River and Lower Nicola River were downgraded to a high streamflow advisory.

The Boundary Region, Upper Fraser Region, Thompson Region, Coldwater River, Similkameen River, Tulameen River, Salmon River and other parts of the Okanagan and Nicola River remain under a high streamflow advisory.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre has yet to issue a flood warning, its highest risk assessment, in June.

The agency warns that erosion and riverbed damage caused during last year's floods could create unpredictable local risks of flooding during this spring freshet.

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