Joe Oranchuk, a resident of Heimlich Road, stands in a puddle that was once a field, Thursday afternoon. Residents along the road are experiencing flooding. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Officials warn B.C. flooding may be worse due to 2017 wildfires

Flood warnings have already been posted by the Cariboo Regional District

Emergency officials in British Columbia’s southern Interior warn that devastating wildfires that charred thousands of square kilometres of timber and bush last year now have the potential to make seasonal flooding even more severe.

The warning from the Cariboo Regional District comes as about 120 properties were ordered to evacuate Sunday in the Upper Nazko region about 100 kilometres west of Quesnel.

Flood warnings have been posted for the Nazko and West Road rivers in the region and Emily Epp, the regional district’s emergency operations centre spokeswoman, said surging water had already cut some roads and trapped residents on their land.

“The RCMP is helping them evacuate by helicopter and then we are transporting them by bus to emergency support services reception centre in Quesnel,” Epp said early Monday.

Flood watches were also posted by the River Forecast Centre for many other waterways around the Cache Creek, Merritt, Williams Lake and Quesnel areas, and Epp said the 2018 spring thaw was shaping up to be challenging.

“We are definitely seeing much more significant flooding than we usually do in our regional district and the experts at the River Forecast Centre and Ministry of Environment are advising us that a lot of this is due to the impact from the wildfires last year,” she said.

More than 12,000 square kilometres of timber and bush burned across B.C. between July and September 2017, with the largest wildfire ever recorded in the province, called the Plateau fire, destroying a massive area west of Quesnel and Williams Lake.

The Nazko watershed, where the current flooding is occurring, was significantly impacted by that blaze, Epp said.

“The experts are telling us that with the devastation to the landscape, the water and snowmelt is able to flow much more accessibly into the rivers and streams and so causes these high stream flow and potential flooding issues,” she said.

In southern B.C., evacuation orders remain in effect for 148 properties in the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District community of Tulameen, while the rest of the town is on evacuation alert.

Evacuation orders had also been posted for the Sportsman Bowl area north of Oliver and a mudslide forced the evacuation of properties in the Killiney Beach area on the northwest side of Okanagan Lake.

Rapidly rising river levels and the likelihood of flooding in low-lying areas for the southern Interior, Boundary, Kootenay and Peace regions prompted the River Forecast Centre to maintain high streamflow advisories there.

Recent rains, extremely heavy snowpacks and another round of temperatures in the mid to high 20s for many parts of southern B.C. are expected to add to flooding risks in the coming days.

The Provincial Emergency Co-ordination Centre advises people to stay away from eroded banks and keep children and pets away from stream banks, which could be unstable.

The centre also says to pay attention to changing conditions, especially in low-lying areas and it has listed steps to take in case flooding occurs, including creating a household emergency plan and moving valuables and equipment to higher ground.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Abbotsford BMX kid wows GoPro

Eight-year-old Rex Johnson wins award for inventive video

Loewen to seek fifth term on Abbotsford council

Long-time councillor was first elected in 2005

Most school safety improvements now complete, district says

23 of 31 actions finished; not practical to train all students in first aid, district says

Abbotsford hospital ER expansion pushed back to 2019

Fraser Health says reorganization increased room in ER and bolstered mental health services

Man confessed to ‘Mr. Big’ that he killed his half-sister by suffocating her

Details heard in court about murder of Rachel Pernosky, 18, of Mission

VIDEO: B.C.’s ‘unicycle cowboy’ aspires to be rancher one day

Burklan Johnson has only ridden a horse once, but this unicyclist has big plans to become a cowboy.

Police watchdog forwards report to Crown in Burnaby fatal shooting

RCMP were responding to an alleged robbery in 2015

Ferry repairs will mean sailing waits to and from Vancouver Island

B.C. Ferries is advising that repair work to one of the vessels is taking longer than expected

A year after fire, B.C. senior and his dog thankful to be together

Terry Theroux was separated from Scruffy for 3 months after evictions, fire displaced Highland residents

After World Cup lineup photographed, England urges media to help team

Now the England camp is actually asking media: Are you with us or against us?

Man missing from Fraser Valley prompts massive police operation near Grand Forks

RCMP saying little about the case of Wilfred Kilgren of Popkum who was eventually found in Creston

UPDATED: One person killed in fiery crash near Barriere

Thursday evening crash involved three large semi-trailers and a passenger vehicle

Critter Care Wildlife Society annual open house set for July 21, 22

Guided tours offered during south Langley wildlife rescue facililty fundraiser

5 to start your day

CRA scam goes from bad to worse in Vancouver, body of Delta man found in Squamish lake and more

Most Read