River stable, but higher waters expected in days

Abbotsford residents who were issued an evacuation order have been allowed to return home – for now.

Rob Thomas stands in front of his sandbagged house on River Road in Matsqui. His home is one of two still under an evacuation order that was withdrawn on Sunday night for that area and Glen Valley.

Rob Thomas stands in front of his sandbagged house on River Road in Matsqui. His home is one of two still under an evacuation order that was withdrawn on Sunday night for that area and Glen Valley.

Residents of Glen Valley have been allowed to return to their homes as Fraser River water levels have stabilized.

However, it could be a short stay. Late Sunday night, city officials rescinded the flood evacuation order to all but two residents in the area. The evacuation alert remains.

“We should have a few days of relative calm before the next pulse is expected,” said Abbotsford Deputy Fire Chief Mike Helmer.

He said residents in the area were “happy to go back” even if it may only be for a few days.

The two homes still under the evacuation order are located at the far east and far west of River Road where the flood risk is still high.

The portion of River Road east of Bradner Road is open to local traffic only.

The rest of River Road is open to passenger vehicles only and is limited to one lane in some areas.

Engineering staff will continue to assess the safety of River Road.

Rob Thomas is the owner of one of the homes still under the evacuation order.

On Monday, he returned to his home for a short time, to remove belongings and move some of his furniture and appliances to a higher floor.

He also plans to have a motorhome towed from the area.

He told the Abbotsford News that he was staying at a hotel for the time being.

The weekend flood watch was less severe than originally predicted.

The BC River Forecast Centre was calling for levels as high as 6.75 metres at the Mission Bridge gauge. The Fraser River never passed the 6.4-metre mark. As of Monday morning, the river level was 6.22 metres.

“We can only go with the predictions we’re given,” said Helmer regarding the evacuation process.

He said about 95 per cent of residents were in agreement that it’s better to be “safe than sorry” and leave the area.

“We’ll take the five per cent flack,” Helmer said.

While the forecast for the coming days is for stable levels, the Fraser is expected to rise again by the end of the week. Helmer said the forecast is for levels to range from 6.7 metres to 7.3 metres, which will result in another evacuation of the area.

City engineering crews are monitoring the dikes every hour.

The City of Abbotsford has activated an emergency operations centre and will continue to monitor conditions and provide updates.

Detailed flood information is available on the city’s website at abbotsford.ca and through the Flood Information Phone Line at 604-864-5688.