B.C. FLOOD: Fraser-Cascade closes schools for the week, essential traffic only on Lougheed

Emergency vehicles and tractors are seen at the base of a mudslide on Highway 7 west of Agassiz, B.C., Wednesday, November 17, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Stranded vehicles are seen where a mudslide happened earlier in the week on Highway 7 west of Agassiz, B.C., Wednesday, November 17, 2021.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Update: 3:02 p.m.

The Fraser-Cascade School District 78 has closed school for the remainder of the week due to flooding conditions.

Emergency Management B.C. has issued an advisory for marine users to watch for logs and woody debris along the Lower Fraser River, downstream of Agassiz, effective through Saturday, Nov. 20.

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Update: 2:46 p.m.

The Lougheed Highway between Bodnar Road and Highlands Boulevard in the Mount Woodside area has been changed to “essential travel only.”

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Agassiz-Harrison residents are surveying the damage and helping stranded travellers as floods and landslides tore through the Fraser Valley this past week.

Many major highways remain shut down due to the damage of this week’s torrential rainfall.

As of publication, there have been multiple conflicting reports posted all over social media regarding the Lougheed Highway stretch between Bodnar Road and Highlands Boulevard in the Harrison Mills/Mount Woodside area. DriveBC has confirmed with The Observer that Highway 7 is open in both directions between Bodnar and Highlands to single-lane alternating traffic. Travellers can expect major delays due to congestion, be prepared to stop and watch for road crews and be aware of ongoing flood and landslide conditions.

As of publication, the Lougheed Highway remains closed between Johnson Slough Rest Area and Ross Road in the Ruby Creek area east of Hope. There is no detour available and no estimated time for opening as of Wednesday.

Two major landslides stranded travellers along the Lougheed Highway in the Agassiz area for several hours. Hundreds were evacuated to Agassiz thanks to Canada Task Force 1 and local emergency crews, air lifted to the Agassiz Fairgrounds and taking shelter to rest, recover and warm up at the Agricultural Centre on Pioneer Avenue.

Community members have shown no hesitation to answer the call for supply donations and volunteers have worked day and night to meet the needs of evacuees.

RELATED: Canadian military sending more support to Fraser Valley ‘as soon as possible’

District of Kent Coun. Susan Spaeti praised locals for stepping up to help so many people.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud of our community as I have been today,” she posted on her public Facebook page on Monday.

“The way our community stepped up with food, clothing, offers of rides or a warm bed is amazing. The evacuees were so grateful and many wanted us to pass on their thanks to the community. Thanks again to everyone.”

Rockwell Drive remains closed at the Lillooet-Rockwell intersection in Harrison Hot Springs as of publication. The 6500 block of Rockwell Drive has been ordered to evacuate due to ongoing flooding and landslide concerns. Hot Springs Road remains clear at this time.

Residents under evacuation order are advised to take critical items such as medicine, ID, passport, wallet, and keys, shut off electrical appliances other than the refrigerator and freezers. Evacuees who have not yet done so are asked to register at the District of Kent Emergency Support Services reception centre at the Riverside Christian Reformed Church at 7452 Morrow Road. Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue and local RCMP are assisting with evacuations via boat.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the District of Kent says within Agassiz, Sutherland Road and a section of Humphrey Road are open to local traffic only due to flooding.

RELATED: VIDEO: Rockwell Drive wrecked after weekend flood, landslides

Residents in the District of Kent and Harrison Hot Springs have been asked to limit water use to relieve pressure on the water and wastewater infrastructure already close to capacity because of the flooding. If it is safe to do so, the district encourages residents to clear storm drains of debris to help drain the flood waters.

”Your co-operation and efforts are making a difference and we wish to thank you for helping us keep the system functioning,” village officials said in a Facebook post Tuesday morning.

District officials further advise avoiding many public parks at this time due to flooding and debris. If you must access these areas, use extreme caution as trees may collapse due to ground saturation and strong winds.

As of publication, the District of Kent and Village of Harrison Hot Springs remain under a state of local emergency (SOLE). A SOLE enables local governing bodies to expedite aid, evacuations and emergency-related orders in the event of a natural disaster or other large-scale crisis. For example, Harrison Hot Springs last declared an SOLE during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, shutting down visitor access to the village and discouraging tourism.

More to come.


@adamEditor18
adam.louis@ ahobserver.com

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AgassizB.C. Floods 2021BC FloodBreaking NewsHarrison Hot Springs