06/29/2012 07:59 EDT | Updated 08/29/2012 05:12 EDT

B.C. Floods: Water Levels In Rivers And Lakes Ebb, Giving Flood-Weary Residents A Break


VANCOUVER - Water levels in many of British Columbia's rivers and lakes are dropping, giving flood-weary residents a break.

And while that danger recedes, officials are warning people planning Canada Day celebrations to take extra precautions around provincial waterways.

Dave Campbell of the B.C. River Forecast Centre said Friday that many of the Shuswap lakes —where disaster struck last weekend — have peaked along with several other lakes and rivers in the province.

Because of a favourable weather forecast, Campbell says he expects to see ongoing improvements, creating more room in lakes and rivers to deal with new rain or snowmelt.

Chris Duffy of Emergency Management BC said the situation is stable and improving.

But Duffy said there are still 130 people around the province under evacuation order and another 2,200 people on evacuation alert.

"Weather is the main driver here. I'm certainly hearing from our operations centre that the situation is becoming a little more stable, to improving," he said.

"There's absolutely still lots of activity going on on the ground in various areas around the province, but I think that a lot of hard-working folks are able to catch their breath in the next day or so and start to get ahead a bit."

In northern B.C., near Fort Ware, a river has washed away the road into two First Nations communities, but Duffy said a local forestry crew hopes to restore access by Saturday at the latest.

Duffy warned that residents and visitors to the province must make flood conditions and weather forecasts part of their holiday planning to ensure they're staying in a safe area.

"Consider the risks associated with canoeing, kayaking and rafting and inner tubing as fast-flowing water could make these activities very dangerous or deadly," he said. "Stay away from fast-flowing waters. Children and pets should never be unattended near creeks, rivers and lakes."

Duffy said many people aren't aware that water can erode the edges of rivers and lakes, making the land above dangerous.

"Stay aware," he said. "Weather patterns and water levels can change quickly and cut off access to camp sites and trails, roads, without much warning."

The Fraser River through the Lower Mainland is expected to peak on the weekend as water from last week's flooding in the Interior makes its way south.

A potential disaster has apparently been diverted on the fast-flowing Fraser as crews worked around the clock to install piles more than 10 metres deep into the riverbed to secure several derelict vessels weighing 7,000 tonnes.

An old BC ferry and a convoy of other ships are docked along the river near Mission and there was concern the rushing water could allow the ships to break loose and damage other boats and infrastructure downstream.

Capt. Phillip Nelson, a master mariner, said during a media conference call that several sturdy steel lines were attached to the ferry and the other boats at various locations.

"I'm now very confident that the Queen of Sidney and the other vessels nearby are sufficiently well secured to withstand the rigours of this year's freshet."

Also on HuffPost

Photo gallery B.C. Flooding In Sicamous 2012 See Gallery

America Votes
The latest polls, breaking news and analysis on the U.S. election from HuffPost’s Washington, D.C. bureau