BRITISH COLUMBIA

BC Flooding: East Kootenay, Fairmont Emergencies Declared

06/21/2013 09:15 EDT | Updated 08/21/2013 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - Heavy rainfall has swollen creeks and streams in southeastern British Columbia, where one regional district is warning residents to be extremely cautious around the dangerous waterways.

Bill Macpherson of the Regional District of Central Kootenay said an emergency response centre has been set up with staff on the ground and in the air to monitor any trouble spots including riverbanks that may be saturated.

Macpherson said two creeks north of Kaslo are of particular concern in the area where an avalanche of mud and debris after heavy rain and snowmelt rolled over the nearby community of Johnsons Landing last July, killing four people.

"I would say there's a fairly high level of concern as it should be because it has been fairly intensive rain for the last few days but the forecast is better than originally scheduled," he said Friday, adding the rain was still coming down.

"There have been several slides or where creeks have overflowed their banks and created new channels. In the case of Hamil Creek the approach to the bridge on either side was destroyed," he said.

A couple of houses were impacted by the creek.

No evacuation alerts have been issued for the Central Kootenay but several remain in effect in the East Kootenay, and Macpherson said people should be ready with bottled water and any necessary medication just in case they are ordered out.

The latest declaration of local emergency was issued by the Regional District of East Kootenay just before 11 p.m. Thursday as the Elk River rose rapidly, threatening a number of homes in the Elk Valley.

Local states of emergency were declared as a precaution in Fairmont and Fairmont Hot Springs earlier Thursday because of high levels of Fairmont and Cold Springs Creek.

A campground and several nearby properties were ordered evacuated outside Windermere and evacuation alerts are in effect for low-lying properties in a small area south of Sparwood, and for a handful of homes along the Elk River south of Fernie.

But Environment Canada has now lifted all rainfall warnings across B.C., although it notes 106 millimetres of rain drenched Sparwood over the last 24 hours, with Nelson, Creston and Cranbrook all receiving between 70 and 77 millimetres.

Highway 1 remains closed east of Golden because of numerous washouts in Alberta, while highways 31A and 93 in southeastern B.C. are also severed by washouts.

Slides and washouts have reduced Highway 3 outside Sparwood and Highway 31 north of Kaslo to single-lane alternating traffic.