06/23/2012 05:10 EDT | Updated 08/23/2012 05:12 EDT

Fraser River Flood: Fraser Valley City Issues Evacuation Alerts To 43 Homes Over Flood Fears


VANCOUVER - At least 1,240 British Columbians are facing flood-evacuation alerts and another 165 are under evacuation orders as a low-pressure weather system anchored off Oregon continues to dump heavy rains around the province.

The weather system, which is expected to remain over the province until Wednesday, has dumped about 25 millimetres of rain on the South Coast since Friday night and another 48 millimetres in the southern Interior, said a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

While river levels in the Fraser Valley are expected to remain high over the weekend, residents will see a slight reprieve from the threat of flooding during the middle of next week until another pulse of water flows south from the north, said an official with the B.C. River Forecast Centre.

No request for assistance from troops has yet gone out, but an emergency official noted Saturday he's in regular contact with Canadian Forces personnel who are working in several operations' centres.

Chris Duffy, executive director of emergency co-ordination for Emergency Management BC., said military officials are in close contact with the provincial emergency co-ordination centre and a regional centre in Surrey.

"We're evaluating on a real-time basis through the day on the potential needs for additional resources, and those are certainly available if required," said Duffy.

"At this time, though, it's just a state of readiness or preparedness in the event that things start to escalate and get beyond provincial resources. I'm not anticipating that at this time."

So seriously are officials taking the threat of flooding though that Emergency Management BC's 24-7 co-ordination centre is operational, as are the provincial emergency co-ordination centre and three regional centres, said Duffy.

Around the province, 19 local emergency centres are now active, and officials have issued four declarations of local states of emergency, and evacuation orders in four communities and alerts in another 10 communities, he added.

As of Friday night, 1,240 people across B.C. were on evacuation alert and another 165 were on evacuation order, said Duffy.

On Saturday morning, the District of Maple Ridge, located east of Vancouver and on the Fraser, issued evacuation alerts to 43 homes in an historic and established community not protected by dikes, said municipal spokesman Fred Armstrong.

The river's level isn't expected to change much before Monday morning, but the alerts allow officials to provide information to residents on what they should do in the event of an actual evacuation, he said.

"We're not anticipating any really significant change on the status," said Armstrong.

David Jones, an Environment Canada meteorologist, said the weather system behind the most-recent rainfall and flooding threat is still sitting off the Oregon Coast and will remain in place until about Wednesday afternoon, when it will move into Alberta.

Jones said the weather will begin to dry slightly in the south Sunday, but rainfall is forecast for five to 10 millimetres for many areas and will continue across the central Interior and points north.

He said the potential for rain in most areas will continue on Monday, too.

Dave Campbell, head of the B.C. River Forecast Centre, said heavy rains which fell last week on the upper Fraser River near Prince George have been making their way down towards the coast.

The river's level peaked at Hope, B.C. Friday, has since dropped, and as of Saturday morning its flow was recorded at 11,700 cubic metres a second, he added.

The pulse of water has continued downstream to Mission, B.C., where the river's level rose to 6.4 metres Saturday morning, he said.

Campbell said while the pulse of water appears to have worked its way down the Fraser, recent rains which are now making their way into the river, are the next issue.

He said about 10 per cent of the river's flow on the lower Fraser now will come from those rains.

Areas on the lower Fraser will experience a little bit of a reprieve during the early part of next week until the next pulse of water from northern part of the province begins to make its way south, said Campbell.

Just how much the river rises during the next pulse of water will depend on how much rain falls, he said.

"Hopefully by Sunday or Monday we'll be able to have a much more accurate forecast of what the potential for rise next week is," he said.

"Right now, our outlook is that there's a possibility of a moderate increase in terms of river levels in the lower Fraser towards the end of next week."

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