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Abbotsford braces for further flooding as storms pound West Coast

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun hopes rain over the next four days will be absorbed by existing flooded areas and pumped out into the Fraser River
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Flooding in Abbotsford, Nov. 15, 2021. Photo: Stefan Labbé

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun says his city remains on high alert as two incoming storms are expected to drop more rain on the region than the initial atmospheric river that flooded the region nearly two weeks ago.

“We remain very concerned about the coming weather events and the impact they will have,” said Braun Friday afternoon, ahead of a visit from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Environment Canada has issued a rainfall warning for the Fraser Valley, with up to 120mm expected to fall between Saturday morning and Sunday evening. The weather centre is also warning of warmer temperatures causing snow melt runoff exasperating local flash floods.

Then, on Tuesday, another 50 to 100 mm of rain is expected to fall in the Fraser Valley, said Braun, noting the combined total is more than the 180 mm that fell over two days starting Nov. 14, albeit over the course of four days.

“We expect flood waters flowing over from Washington State once again,” said Braun, referring to the Nooksack River.

The good news, said Braun, is that the broken Sumas River dike is completely restored.

And, added Braun, the city’s main pump to the Fraser River is working.

“Overnight conditions remained stable across the flood zone with the Barrowtown pump station managing to keep pace with the additional water from the rain and water runoff that was added into the diking and drainage system.

“With Sumas River levels currently stable, the Barrowtown flood gates were able to remain fully open, keeping the Sumas River emptying into the Fraser River,” explained Braun.

But he noted the flood levels only went down three inches in the past day, with rain, as compared to six inches on Wednesday with no rain.

Braun said the “hope” is the new water ends up in existing flooded areas.

He said he does not expect changes in evacuation orders this coming week.

The city has established an information page at abbotsford.ca/flooding-alert. It shows the latest road closures, city service updates, evacuation bulletins and government assistance portals.

Earlier Thursday, Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack was reopened, reconnecting the major thoroughfare between the Fraser Valley and Vancouver.

gwood@glaciermedia.ca