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Floods wash out north

UPDATE: 6:45 p.m.

 Flooding has forced some residents out of their homes while leaving thousands of others in the dark as heavy rain washed out major roads and bridges, and damaged power lines in northeastern British Columbia.

In Dawson Creek, 60 residences were evacuated due to flooding from the creek that cuts through the centre of the city, said Mayor Dale Bumstead.

Over 3,300 customers in Dawson Creek and about 200 customers in surrounding communities were without power after two distribution feeders and at least six poles were damaged, BC Hydro said in a news release.

With Dawson Creek's fire hall located in the north and hospital in the south, city and emergency officials focused on maintaining access for residents to services, said Bumstead.

"We want to make sure that our community is safe and if there is an emergency that we can adequately and appropriately respond to it," Bumstead said.

The four major arteries in the city were closed to all traffic due to the flood, said Fire Chief Gordon Smith.

One bridge was under water while another bridge was "completely gone" and washed out by the flooding, Smith said.

One of two rural roads ringing around the city remained in tact and was being used as an emergency route for crews to access all residents.

To save time in the event of an emergency, fire, ambulance and police crews were also stationed on both sides of the city.

The majority of residences affected by flooding or sewer backups were located in the south side of the city. Evacuees have been moved into hotels or other accommodations.

Bumstead said there have been no reports of injuries, with the bulk of the damage affecting roads and infrastructure.

Drinking water remained safe, however, residents were urged to limit their use, the city said on its Facebook page.

A local emergency was declared in the nearby community of Chetwynd, which has also been affected by the heavy rain.

Mayor Merlin Nichols issued the declaration Wednesday after about 100 millimetres of rain drenched the town of about 3,000 people, 100 kilometres west of Dawson Creek.

Nichols said the community's industrial area just north of town was hardest hit, with the railway washed out and damage to buildings caused by the flooding of Winter Creek.

Drive B.C. reports washouts or closures on Highways 97, 52 and 29, affecting Chetwynd and Dawson Creek.

The River Forecast Centre issued a flood warning for the Peace Region including streams near Pine Pass, Chetwynd, Tumbler Ridge, Dawson Creek and Fort St. John. Flood watches were in effect for other parts of northeast B.C. including streams near Fort Nelson.

Downpours faded to showers west of Dawson Creek by early Thursday, prompting optimism from Nichols.

"Unless the weather takes another turn for the worse, we should be able to start our recovery," he said.

"There's a couple of (bridges) that are in danger, but so far we haven't lost anything. Our focus right now, since the rain has diminished, is mainly on cleanup and restoring."

Hydro and emergency crews across the region are waiting for the water to recede in order to survey the damage and begin repairs.

Low cloud coverage has also made assessing the damage difficult for helicopters in the air, said BC Hydro.

Bumstead urged residents to stay away from waterways and asked them to contact the city or emergency services if they need of help.


UPDATE: 1:55 p.m.

Flooding has forced some residents out of their homes while leaving thousands of others in the dark as heavy rain washed out major roads and bridges, and damaged powerlines in northeastern British Columbia.

In Dawson Creek, 60 residences were evacuated due to flooding from the creek that cuts through the centre of the city, said Mayor Dale Bumstead.

Over 3,300 customers in Dawson Creek and about 200 customers in surrounding communities were without power after two distribution feeders and at least six poles were damaged, BC Hydro said in a news release.

With Dawson Creek's fire hall located in the north and hospital in the south, city and emergency officials focused on maintaining access for residents to services, said Bumstead.

"We want to make sure that our community is safe and if there is an emergency that we can adequately and appropriately respond to it," Bumstead said.

An emergency route circling around the city has been established and remained accessible to crews who needed to reach residents on both sides.


UPDATE: 11:45 a.m.

Flooding has forced residents out of their homes in some communities as heavy rain wash out major roads and bridges in northeastern British Columbia.

In Dawson Creek, 60 residences have been evacuated after a flooded creek cut off access between the north and south sides of the city Thursday morning.

With the city's fire hall located in the north and hospital in the south, city and emergency officials focused on maintaining access for residents to services, said Mayor Dale Bumstead.

"We want to make sure that our community is safe and if there is an emergency that we can adequately and appropriately respond to it," Bumstead said.

An emergency route circling around the city has been established and remains accessible to crews who need to reach residents on both sides.

In anticipation of direct routes being cut off by the water, a fire truck and crew were stationed in the south end of the city early in the morning, Bumstead said.

The majority of residences affected by flooding or sewer backups were located in the south side of the city. Evacuees have been moved into hotels.

Bumstead said there have been no reports of injuries, with the bulk of the damage affecting roads and infrastructure.

A local emergency has been declared in the northeastern British Columbia community of Chetwynd, which has also been affected by the heavy rain.

Mayor Merlin Nichols issued the declaration Wednesday after about 100 millimetres of rain drenched the town of about 3,000 people, 100 kilometres west of Dawson Creek.

Nichols said the community's industrial area just north of town was hardest hit, with the railway washed out and damage to buildings caused by the flooding of Winter Creek.

DriveBC reports washouts or closures on Highways 97, 52 and 29, affecting Chetwynd and Dawson Creek, and the River Forecast Centre posted flood watches there and for waterways near Pine Pass, Tumbler Ridge, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson.

Downpours faded to showers west of Dawson Creek by early Thursday, prompting optimism from Nichols.

"Unless the weather takes another turn for the worse, we should be able to start our recovery," he said.

"There's a couple of (bridges) that are in danger, but so far we haven't lost anything. Our focus right now, since the rain has diminished, is mainly on cleanup and restoring."

The extent of the damage has yet to be assessed.

Bumstead urged residents to stay away from waterways and asked them to contact the city or emergency services if they need of help.


UPDATE: 10 a.m.

Heavy rains in several northeastern British Columbia communities have washed out roads, prompted flood watches, forced some evacuations and led to one declaration of local emergency.

Mayor Merlin Nichols of Chetwynd issued the declaration Wednesday after about 100 mm of rain drenched the town of about 3,000 people, 100 kilometres west of Dawson Creek.

Nichols says the community's industrial area just north of town is hardest hit, with the railway washed out and damage to buildings caused by the flooding of Winter Creek.

Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead says his city has been cut in half by the waterway that divides the town, with residents from several properties forced to higher ground as a number of bridges and culverts have been damaged or destroyed.

DriveBC reports washouts or closures on Highways 97, 52 and 29, affecting Chetwynd and Dawson Creek, and the River Forecast Centre notes flood watches are posted there and for waterways near Pine Pass, Tumbler Ridge, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson.

Environment Canada says rainfall warnings are up for the northeastern corner of the province, with another 20 mm expected before sunshine returns.

"We are in a very serious situation this morning in our city," says Bumstead in a Facebook message posted early Thursday as at least one Dawson Creek bridge was washed away by raging waters.

"The north side of town and south side are now separated," he says, although he posted a further message on social media advising an ambulance route could serve both sides of the city via a rural road ringing Dawson Creek.

Downpours had faded to showers west of Dawson Creek by early Thursday, prompting optimism from Nichols.

"Unless the weather takes another turn for the worse, we should be able to start our recovery," he says of the situation in Chetwynd.

"There's a couple of (bridges) that are in danger, but so far we haven't lost anything. Our focus right now, since the rain has diminished, is mainly on cleanup and restoring."


ORIGINAL

Northern British Columbia continues to be pummelled by rain and plagued by flooding Thursday morning, with the north and south sides of Dawson Creek completely separated by water.

Dawson Creek Mayor Dale Bumstead took to Facebook Thursday, calling the floods “a very serious situation." He says he is considering declaring a state of emergency.

Chetwynd declared a state of local emergency Wednesday due to floods.

Bumstead says 36 homes in Dawson Creek have been evacuated due to the flooding, and he believes several culverts have been completely wiped out.

The mayor says he believes the "dangerous goods route" is the only way to get between the north and south side of the town, which was confirmed by Jennifer Beth.

"I just tried dangerous goods (route) and it's blocked off at 17th," Beth wrote on Facebook. "If you take 17th to 116 you can get access!! Wahoo."

Several highways in Northern B.C. remain closed. Highway 97 in Chetwynd has been closed since Wednesday afternoon, and Highway 29, 13 kilometres south of Chetwynd, is now closed due to a washout. Additionally, Highway 52, southwest of Dawson Creek, is closed due to the flooding.

Environment Canada’s rainfall warning remains in effect for the region. Sixty to 100 millimetres of rain has fallen in the area since Tuesday afternoon, and 10 to 20 mm is expected today. 

"The big issue right now is public safety," Bumstead wrote. "Please be careful and do not go near the water."

There are no reports of injuries or deaths.

– Nicholas Johansen

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