Hundreds of properties in Fraser Valley on evacuation alert due to flood risk

Hundreds of properties in Langley, Abbotsford, and Chilliwack are now on an evacuation alert as water levels rise on the Fraser River.

A high streamflow advisory has been in place for weeks now, but the potential for flooding is becoming more of a threat.

Now, municipalities are ramping up their efforts to protect people's homes.

Hundreds of properties in the Township of Langley are currently on an evacuation alert.

“We issued over 350 hand-delivered notices by the fire department to people who are located in the unprotected areas of the Township of Langley," said Roeland Zwaag, director of public works for the township. "They are not protected by the township dikes system."

The Mission Gauge on the Fraser River has exceeded 5.5 metres and is forecast to continue rising.

Zwaag says officials are monitoring the situation closely as it’s expected to increase to over six metres.

“6.1 metres is when we start maybe looking at evacuation orders if the site conditions warrant it and people are needed to be evacuated because of unsafe access to the property or other reasons,” explained Zwaag.

The affected properties are in Northwest Langley, Fort Langley and Glen Valley. Zwaag says it’s a mixture of rural properties, farmland, and residential areas.

The alerts are intended to give people as much time to prepare to leave as possible.

Officials are urging affected residents to decide on a designated meeting place outside the alert area with loved ones just in case they get separated in an emergency.

It’s also important to have government ID, medications and important insurance documents packed and ready to go.

“We remind people to stay away from fast moving rivers and of course, adhere to any signage you see in place with road closures, or trail closures,” Zwaag told CTV News.

Closures include:

  • Langley Rowing and Paddling Centre Dock
  • Marina Park boat launch and pathway fronting the Fraser River
  • The Fort to Fort trail between the Salmon River pump station and Allard Crescent
  • Trans Canada Trail south of Allard Crescent on 208 Street

The township is offering free sandbags to residents at its operations centre.

“The Fraser River is a fast-moving river. It's got a lot of energy, a lot of force. Stay away from that. We remind people to be alert, just to remain vigilant on your property and do some of your own inspections,” said Zwaag.

DISASTER DEJA VU ONE DECADE AGO

Zwaag says the Fraser River could reach water levels not seen since 2012, when the Mission Gauge rose to 6.37 metres.

It led to a number of flooded roads, trails, and residential properties.

Officials did not issue evacuation orders at the time, but Zwaag says they were close.

“We had to put barricades up with security guards to make sure nobody was crossing into the deep water,” said Zwaag.

Luke Dandurand remembers that flooding all too well.

“Probably about 10 years ago, it flooded really bad where we could actually canoe through it,” said Dandurand as he looked at his property across the Fraser.

His home on the Kwantlen First Nation is safe for now, but he’s monitoring the situation closely.

“We're just going to be on alert, be prepared, have the bag ready and just, you know, listen to professionals and trust them,” said Dandurand.

MORE EVACUATION ALERTS FARTHER EAST

In Abbotsford, an evacuation alert has also been issued for 20 properties in the Glen Valley area.

“Residents will be given as much advance notice as possible prior to evacuation; however, you may receive limited notice due to changing conditions,” wrote the city in a notice posted to its website.

City crews were out filling sandbags Wednesday morning.

In Chilliwack, an evacuation alert has been issued for seven properties outside of the city’s dike system in the Carey Point area.

The city says residents in the affected area between Ballam Road and Carey Road are being contacted directly by officials.

“Most properties in Chilliwack are protected by the city’s dike system and this forecast is not a cause for concern,” said the city in an advisory.

Groundwater levels in the Fairfield Island area are expected to rise, which officials warn may cause wet basements.

“Residents in that area are encouraged to take steps to protect their properties, such as preparing sump pumps and moving items off the basement floor,” wrote the city.

HIGH STREAMFLOW ADVISORY

The BC River Forecast Centre is maintaining its high streamflow advisory for the Lower Fraser River.

That includes the Fraser River from Quesnel downstream, including Big Bar, Boston Bar, and the Fraser Valley from Hope to the ocean.

“Continued snowmelt and wet weather across the B.C. Interior is leading to ongoing high flows in the Fraser River tributaries and mainstem,” wrote the Ministry of Forests in an advisory.

Officials say snowmelt has been rapid, with two-thirds of the annual snow accumulation now melted.

“Flows on the Fraser River are anticipated to remain well above normal for this time of year over the next several weeks,” wrote the Ministry.

Over the next week or so, in particular, risks for rising waters will be driven by rainfall on top of already high river levels from snowmelt runoff.