It will be at least another two or three weeks before residents on the flooded Sumas Prairie can get back into their homes, says Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun.
Braun, speaking at the city’s daily press conference on Thursday (Dec. 2), said the lake bottom is currently approximately 4.5 kilometres in diameter with five to six feet of water at its deepest point.
He said the Barrowtown Pump Station is able to reduce the water levels about six to seven inches a day, but that can change depending on rainfall and snow melt.
“We’re going to be there pumping for weeks yet,” he said.
Braun said the Barrowtown floodgates are currently open, and the water levels dropped seven inches in the last 24 hours.
The evacuation order for Huntingdon Village was downgraded to an alert Wednesday evening (Dec. 1), and Braun said he hopes to lift other orders in the coming days.
But he said several factors need to be in place first, including the reopening of main roads.
He applauded the reopening of Highway 1 on Thursday afternoon from Abbotsford to Hope.
“This is great news not only for our residents but also for people, goods and services to be able to once again access this key transportation corridor,” he said.
He said there are still floodwaters along some roads – including Boundary Road – but those are expected to subside over the next couple of days, allowing more access to affected areas.
Braun said the city also needs to ensure that all impacted homes are evaluated by the “rapid damage assessment team.”
“As we continue to focus our efforts towards recovery, our key concern is ensuring that people can safely access their properties,” he said.
Braun said the city is working with senior levels of government “advocating for every bit of support and funding available.”
In the meantime, residents placed on evacuation order due to flooding from the initial storm from Nov. 14 to 16 are eligible for $2,000 per household through the Canadian Red Cross.
As well, Samaritan’s Purse has a disaster relief team based at Northview Community Church to provide cleanup support. Homeowners needing assistance are asked to call 1-833-738-7743.
Braun said he expects to share more information Friday during the daily press conference at 2 p.m. about the city’s return-to-home program for evacuees.
The conference can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel.