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600 evacuated in Abbotsford as mayor worries about forecasted rain, floodwaters from U.S.

Mayor Henry Braun predicts total recovery costs will top $1 billion dollars
Crews work to protect an Abbotsford pump station from encroaching flood water. (@ErikDV Twitter photo)

Nooksack River floodwater continues to flow into Sumas Prairie faster than can currently be pumped out, said Abbotsford’s mayor, who expressed concern about rain forecasted for next week.

The Barrowtown Pumpstation continues to work full tilt, and there is no change to conditions at the site which remains closely monitored by emergency crews, Braun said during the morning press conference, Nov. 18

“We are still not pumping anywhere near the amount of water out of the system than is coming in,” Braun said. “I’m not concerned about today’s rain … I’m concerned about next week and what’s coming.”

Approximately 80 to 100 millimetres of rain is expected next Tuesday, and it’s going to take weeks to pump out all the water, Braun said.

The water levels continue to fluctuate over Sumas Prairie, and Braun said that if the dike breaches aren’t fixed soon, the former 10-foot deep lakebed could reform.

On a positive note, emergency crews located several submerged water main breaks last night, and have started repairs, Braun said.

Close to 600 people have been evacuated in total, with 11 rescues completed last night, said Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service’s Chief Darren Lee.

He added that emergency alerts regarding localized flooding and small landslides for the Sumas Mountain area were lifted last night.

Abbotsford Police Chief Mike Serr said there are still over 40 people who have stayed behind in Sumas Prairie despite the evacuation order. He warned the rapidly changing water levels posed a serious risk.

“You are putting our first responders and rescue services at risk,” Serr said, adding they have been unable to go door-to-door because of the size of the evacuation area.

“If you have not contacted us and you’re within that evacuation order, please contact us please let us know you’re there.”

He added that many streets will remain closed to traffic until city engineers have deemed them safe.

Braun said the state of emergency continues to evolve, but said some of the focus has started to move to the recovery stage.

He said he’s been in conversation with both the BC Premier and Prime Minister, and has made contact with Washington’s Governor Jay Inslee.

Braun predicts the total recovery costs will top $1 billion dollars, adding the price of rebuilding the Sumas and Matsqui dikes was estimated to be $400 million alone, according to a study done in recent years.

There are still no specifics as to when Canadian Armed Forces will be arriving, or what is coming in terms of men and material.

RELATED: Flood levels abating in west Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford, but not in the northeast


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