06/30/2012 09:56 EDT | Updated 08/30/2012 05:12 EDT

BC Flood: Red Cross, Government Assess Flood-Ravaged Structures As Some Residents Remain Displaced


SICAMOUS, B.C. - The British Columbia government has joined forces with Red Cross volunteers to assess flood-ravaged buildings in Sicamous as some displaced residents remain out of their homes.

Five members of the so-called rapid damage assessment team from BC Housing arrived in the town Saturday to identify unsafe conditions.

"If a side of a wall's crushed in by boulders and whatnot, they would obviously flag that as needing detailed engineering assessment before re-occupation," said Chris Duffy of Emergency Management BC.

"They'll also provide some information about what night need to be done," he said, adding people may have to increase air flow in parts of their homes to prevent mould, for example.

The Red Cross has also set up an assistance centre for residents while other agencies such as Mennonite Disaster Services will be providing services as needed.

Most Sicamous residents forced to leave their homes due to flooding were allowed to return Friday, when disaster financial assistance was approved for the town, Duffy said.

He said 32 people were still out of their homes on Saturday.

A total of 20 evacuation orders are still in place throughout the province and 2,000 people remain on evacuation alert, Duffy said.

Highway 97A, which has been closed three kilometres south of Sicamous, was expected to reopen early Sunday evening.

Justice Minister Shirley Bond said the government is working on recovery plans with communities affected by floods, which were particularly hard hitting for residents in Sicamous.

"We are supporting the needs of local authorities as they face the days and weeks ahead," she said.

Duffy said a boil-water advisory remains in the village of McBride, B.C.

He said people expecting to venture near lakes and rivers during the Canada Day long weekend should be aware that flood conditions still exist for some parts of the province.

"When in doubt of the conditions of a river or lake stay safe and stay away from the water as weather patterns and river levels can change suddenly and without much warning," he said.

"Keeping away from fast-flowing rivers could save your life."

The Fraser River peaked Saturday morning and is expected to continue receding despite rainfall in some parts of the province until Wednesday, said Environment Canada forecaster Gregory Pearce.

He said at least a few days of summer weather is expected to arrive in most regions of B.C. by the end of next week.

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