Flows exceed 1948 levels

More than 500 structures have been impacted by flooding in the Boundary in what officials have called “a fairly catastrophic event.”

Regional District of Kootenay Boundary emergency operations centre director Chris Marsh says 2,790 people have been forced from their homes due to historic flows on the West Kettle, Kettle and Granby rivers.

“We are in the active response stage still, we’ve had water levels come up significantly overnight in certain areas even though we seem to have reached the peak.”

He explained flows on the Kettle River just south of the border topped out at point 60 cm higher than the 1948 record flows, “so this is a fairly catastrophic event for us.”

Over 30 rescues were carried out overnight to extract people from homes surrounded by water. Many of those requiring rescue refused to leave their homes when originally ordered, said regional Fire Chief Dan Derby.

Evacuee reception centres in Grand Forks and Midway are up and running and the Salvation Army in on the ground feeding people. There hasn’t been much demand for group lodging, but “several hundred” people have registered for support with the Red Cross.

Marsh said they had a significant dike failure overnight in Grand Forks, impacting the Fortis and City of Grand Forks substation and knocking out power to much of downtown Grand Forks.

Entire streets of the downtown of the community remain under water, but officials assure the public the drinking water system is running fine.

Five helicopters are in the area conducting flood assessments and volunteer search and rescue teams have been called in from the Okanagan and Kootenays.

Marsh said the flooding was primarily caused by significant rainfall, but with high temperatures in the forecast, there is no saying when things will return to normal.

“While we might get a little reprieve from this event, we are certainly thinking that there may be more peaks, we are not sure… but this could be a long extended event for us.”

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