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Metro Vancouver issues evacuation alert for Barnston Island

Alert is a ‘precautionary measure’; access now restricted to residents, businesses only

Metro Vancouver has issued an evacuation alert for Barnston Island due to “rapidly rising floodwaters” from the Fraser River.

READ ALSO: New flood watch, high stream advisories, evacuation alerts as rains swell B.C. rivers, June 29, 2022

Issued Thursday (June 30), Metro Vancouver said it has placed Barnston Island, located in Electoral Area A, under an evacuation alert, effective 10 a.m.

Surrey RCMP and Metro Vancouver crews were set up in the ferry dock’s parking lot, with trailers set up for potential evacuation operations.

A group of three tourists showed up to the ferry just after 11:30 a.m., hoping to cycle around the island, but were turned around.

Meantime, a man who owns property on the island said he’s not concerned about the risk of flooding.

The man, who declined to give his name, said “where were they a month ago?”

“They could have had a couple of dump-truck loads of sandbags at the ready – I don’t see any.”

The alert notes it’s a “precautionary measure,” and Barnston Island residents are not required to leave at this time, “but are asked to prepare for a potential evacuation order over the long weekend.

It adds that access is now restricted to residents, businesses and those with a family connection, and a state of local emergency has been declared to “restrict access to the island to support a potential evacuation.” Barnston Island Regional Park is also closed.

Staff is “actively monitoring” Fraser River levels, patrolling dikes, deploying sandbags and have established a command post on-site to coordinate evacuation activities.

The alert adds the BC River Forecast Centre, Environment Canada, and Emergency Management BC “predict increasing river flows over the next several days, due to snow melt and precipitation.”

On Wednesday, Metro Vancouver hosted a townhall meeting in partnership with the Katzie First Nation to share flood and response information with island residents.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure said ferry service between Barnston Island and Port Kells will be adjusted based on river water levels.

READ ALSO: High water on Fraser River means service changes for Barnston Island ferry, June 28, 2022

Residents of the island are being asked to:

• Gather essential items, such as medications, eyeglasses, valuable documents, immediate care needs, and pets, and prepare to leave quickly.

• Know the location of all household members and determine a place to meet if separated during a potential evacuation.

• Prepare to evacuate children, plus disabled or elderly persons.

• Begin relocating large pets and livestock to a safe area immediately. People will have priority over large animals on the Barnston Island Ferry once an evacuation order is issued.

• Arrange accommodation for your family, if possible, in the event of an evacuation. Emergency lodging will be provided if necessary.

• Consider taking steps to protect your property from damage, only if time permits.

– With files from Tom Zillich

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Lauren Collins

About the Author: Lauren Collins

I'm a provincial reporter for Black Press Media's national team, after my journalism career took me across B.C. since I was 19 years old.
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