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Evacuation order lifted for central portion of Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford

Mayor Henry Braun extends local state of emergency by another week
An evacuation order for the “central” portion of Sumas Prairie was lifted Monday (Dec. 6). An order for the north portion was lifted Friday (Dec. 3), but the south and “lake bottom” areas remain under evacuation orders.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun has extended the city’s local state of emergency by another week, while lifting evacuation orders for a second area of Sumas Prairie.

Braun, speaking Monday (Dec. 6) at a city press conference, said orders have been lifted for the area defined as the central portion. Orders for the northern portion were lifted on Friday (Dec. 3).

Braun said residents of the central portion must use Cole Road as an access route and not use alternate routes or remove barriers.

The south and “lake bottom” portions of Sumas Prairie remain under evacuation order.

Braun said water levels in the lake bottom dropped 70 inches (almost six feet) over the weekend, including 20 inches in the last 24 hours, and the floodgates at the Barrowtown Pump Station have remained open.

RELATED: Abbotsford’s Return Home Plan starts with evacuation order lifted for north Sumas Prairie

“Despite this progress, it will still be some time before that area becomes accessible again. I was out in the Sumas Prairie (Sunday) and many fields still have four to five feet of standing water as the roads are higher than the surrounding farmland,” he said.

Braun said residents are still being advised to stay out of those areas until they are cleared by city teams because “no one knows what may be just underneath the floodwaters.”

He said work is continuing in Clayburn Village, an area of Matsqui Prairie that also experienced flooding.

“Clayburn Road is now open, and we are actively cleaning out sediment traps by the bridge to improve water flow in the area.”

Braun said the colder temperatures over the last few days have helped the situation because there has been less snow melt – most notably from Mt. Baker, which he said was a “big contributor” to the flooding of the Nooksack River in Washington State.

He said there is “much planning work” that needs to take place to secure funding from senior levels of government to bring the diking system up to “today’s standards.”

“While the flooding event of three weeks ago was, in effect, a perfect storm with multiple conditions coming together to create the one-in-100-year event that consumed Sumas Prairie, I’m not sure that we will have another 100 years before we face a weather event that is similar or worse,” Braun said.

Residents can visit the city’s Return Home Plan webpage and click on the interactive map or search their address to see which area of Sumas Prairie their property falls under and whether they are still under evacuation order.

RELATED: Samaritan’s Purse sending disaster relief unit to Abbotsford

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Vikki Hopes

About the Author: Vikki Hopes

I have been a journalist for almost 40 years, and have been at the Abbotsford News since 1991.
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