Joe Oranchuk, a resident of Heimlich Road, stands in a puddle that was once a field, Thursday afternoon. Residents along the road are experiencing flooding. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Officials warn B.C. flooding may be worse due to 2017 wildfires

Flood warnings have already been posted by the Cariboo Regional District

Emergency officials in British Columbia’s southern Interior warn that devastating wildfires that charred thousands of square kilometres of timber and bush last year now have the potential to make seasonal flooding even more severe.

The warning from the Cariboo Regional District comes as about 120 properties were ordered to evacuate Sunday in the Upper Nazko region about 100 kilometres west of Quesnel.

Flood warnings have been posted for the Nazko and West Road rivers in the region and Emily Epp, the regional district’s emergency operations centre spokeswoman, said surging water had already cut some roads and trapped residents on their land.

“The RCMP is helping them evacuate by helicopter and then we are transporting them by bus to emergency support services reception centre in Quesnel,” Epp said early Monday.

Flood watches were also posted by the River Forecast Centre for many other waterways around the Cache Creek, Merritt, Williams Lake and Quesnel areas, and Epp said the 2018 spring thaw was shaping up to be challenging.

“We are definitely seeing much more significant flooding than we usually do in our regional district and the experts at the River Forecast Centre and Ministry of Environment are advising us that a lot of this is due to the impact from the wildfires last year,” she said.

More than 12,000 square kilometres of timber and bush burned across B.C. between July and September 2017, with the largest wildfire ever recorded in the province, called the Plateau fire, destroying a massive area west of Quesnel and Williams Lake.

The Nazko watershed, where the current flooding is occurring, was significantly impacted by that blaze, Epp said.

“The experts are telling us that with the devastation to the landscape, the water and snowmelt is able to flow much more accessibly into the rivers and streams and so causes these high stream flow and potential flooding issues,” she said.

In southern B.C., evacuation orders remain in effect for 148 properties in the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District community of Tulameen, while the rest of the town is on evacuation alert.

Evacuation orders had also been posted for the Sportsman Bowl area north of Oliver and a mudslide forced the evacuation of properties in the Killiney Beach area on the northwest side of Okanagan Lake.

Rapidly rising river levels and the likelihood of flooding in low-lying areas for the southern Interior, Boundary, Kootenay and Peace regions prompted the River Forecast Centre to maintain high streamflow advisories there.

Recent rains, extremely heavy snowpacks and another round of temperatures in the mid to high 20s for many parts of southern B.C. are expected to add to flooding risks in the coming days.

The Provincial Emergency Co-ordination Centre advises people to stay away from eroded banks and keep children and pets away from stream banks, which could be unstable.

The centre also says to pay attention to changing conditions, especially in low-lying areas and it has listed steps to take in case flooding occurs, including creating a household emergency plan and moving valuables and equipment to higher ground.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Community invited to help with Downtown Surrey BIA’s fence art project

Association is hoping to change the ‘narrative’ for 135A Street with artwork

‘Kim’s Convenience’ keeps Surrey actor busy when not working as church pastor in Guildford

Award-nominated James Yi will again play shop owner at Surrey Arts Centre next winter

Olympic softball qualifier gets $150K boost from provincial government

2019 Americas Qualifier to be held in South Surrey from Aug. 25-Sept. 1

Hazmat team called to Surrey recycling centre

Witness at scene said several workers reported affects including coughing, headaches and chest tightness

VIDEO: Wet weather kicks off Lower Mainland toad migration

Thousands of small western toads were making the trek from pond to woods

Langley organizers invite special guest to Gone Country

Cancer fundraising, day-long concert sold out more than a month and a half ahead of Saturday’s event

Gas price inquiry questions Trans Mountain capacity, company denies collusion

The first of up to four days of oral hearings in the inquiry continue in Vancouver

Serious police incident unfolding at Sts’ailes near Agassiz

Small reserve near Agassiz surrounded by police vehicles, helicopter, ERT

‘Benzos’ and fentanyl a deadly cocktail causing a growing concern on B.C. streets

Overdoses caused by benzodiazepines can’t be reversed with opioid-overdose antidote naloxone

RCMP release sketch of suspect in SFU assault, appeal to witnesses who helped woman

The RCMP want to talk to two women who helped the victim after she got to the parking lot

Will you be celebrating national hotdog day with any of these crazy flavours?

The popularity of hotdogs spans generations, cultures

Former home of accused Penticton shooter vandalized

Ex-wife of man who is accused of murdering four people had her house vandalized

Survivor of near-drowning in B.C. lake viewing life through new eyes

“If I died that day, the baby wouldn’t know his dad,” said 31-year-old Mariano Santander-Melo.

Most Read