Mayor Henry Braun says his meeting Friday afternoon (Nov. 26) with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will be a “very high-level overview” of the flooding situation in Abbotsford.
Trudeau is scheduled to meet in the early afternoon with Braun, Deputy Premier Mike Farnworth, Chief Dalton Silver of the Sumas First Nation and Chief Alice McKay of the Matsqui First Nation.
A tour of the flood-ravaged areas will follow.
Braun, speaking at the city’s daily press conference, said he will discuss with Trudeau the needs of the community going forward.
“I need the army here to do continual sandbags, to do inspections on the 17 kilometres of dike, remove debris from culverts – and things like that,” he said.
“So we will be talking about that, but we will also be talking about the recovery to come, which will be years.”
Trudeau is scheduled to host a press conference at 5:30 p.m. in Victoria with Premier John Horgan. It’s not yet known whether any funding announcements will be made in support of B.C. flood victims and/or recovery efforts.
Braun said conditions remained stable overnight in the flood zone, and the Barrowtown Pump Station was able to keep pace with the additional water from the rainfall and runoff.
He said approximately 50 millimetres of rain accumulated, but the floodgates at the pump station were able to remain fully open, keeping the Sumas River emptying into the Fraser River.
Braun said the flood level dropped by another three inches in the last 24 hours, compared to six to eight inches over the previous 24 hours.
But he said staff continue to remain “very concerned” about upcoming rainfalls. Another 90 to 120 mm of rain is expected Saturday and Sunday, with an additional 50 to 100 mm on Tuesday and Wednesday. This 140 to 220 mm compares to the initial atmospheric river that brought 180 mm over two and half days.
“Part of our challenge and planning for the next few days is that any additional rain we receive will be introduced into an existing flood area where water levels are already high in the rivers surrounding the Sumas Prairie, and the ground is super-saturated,” Braun said.
“This is a situation we have never faced before.”
He said due to this “high level of risk,” there won’t be any change in evacuation orders for the Sumas Prairie before the middle of next week.
Braun said the dike repairs to the main breach at No. 3 Road are now complete to a height of 23.3 feet (7.1 metres).
He said the city has received additional funding from Emergency Management BC to increase the height – also to 23.3 feet – of the seven-kilometre stretch of dike along the eastern stretch of the Sumas River. That work should be finished Friday or Saturday.
“We know the storm is coming. At this point, we are as ready as we can be.”
Braun said he will provide updates at Saturday’s press briefing at 2 p.m. on his meeting with Trudeau.