The flood-hit city of Abbotsford, B.C., has extended its local state of emergency by another week and lifted another evacuation order for part of Sumas Prairie.
Repairs and clean-up are ongoing, Mayor Henry Braun said on Monday, but residents Sumas Prairie Central Region Now you can return home.
“One must go in and out of Coal Road,” he said, citing security concerns. “We’re asking you, ‘Don’t try to take an alternate route or remove obstacles.'”
The water level in southern Sumas Prairie has fallen by about six feet since last week, but some infrastructure is still submerged.
Many farms still have four to five feet of standing water, Braun said, because the roads are higher than the surrounding farmland.
“No one knows what might happen under the flood waters,” he said.
“Even once we are able to clean the water out of this area, there will still be a lot of work that will need to be done before we can rebuild.”
Abbotsford is one of several southern BC communities to be drenched by four atmospheric rivers in November.
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A dust of snow covered the city over the weekend, but Braun said the cold temperatures helped, not hindered.
“Low freezing levels reduced the amount of snow we would add to our system. I’m not sure I’ve said this before, but the flooding of the Nooksack River during past weather events resulted in the bulk of snow from Mount Baker contribution was.
Damage assessments on homes, buildings, bridges, gazebos and other structures are ongoing. The city is working with the help of Canada Task Force 1, an elite urban search and rescue team.
Meanwhile, the mayor said he is focused on soliciting funding from B.C. and Ottawa to bring the city’s dike to today’s standards.
“I’m not sure we’ll have another 100 years before we face another weather event that’s the same or worse, and we’re not prepared for that today,” he explained.
“As mayor, this is the most pressing conversation I think needs to happen with senior levels of government in the coming weeks.”
The Sumas Prairie Central Zone remains under evacuation alert, as does the Northern Territory, whose evacuation order was lifted Friday.
All returning Sumas Prairie residents should follow the “do not use” water advisory due to “persistent uncontrollable” water main breaches.
The B.C. government has also said that the liquid manure may have contaminated private well water in the Fraser Valley.