While Fraser River flood warnings and evacuation orders are being issued upstream, officials in Surrey remain confident waters won’t breach this city’s dike system to a major extent.
City staff were a lot more confident before an updated forecast Tuesday that calls for heavy rainfall Friday and Saturday, just as the river is expected to peak. Delta officials are preparing to move to “Stage 2” where they watch dikes around the clock.
Upriver, the story is much worse.
From Hope to Prince George, the Fraser is expected to swell to levels not seen since the major floods of 1972.
Closer to home, Chilliwack has issued evacuation orders to 40 homes and properties outside the dike system.
The river is swelling due to heavy spring rainfall and a over average melting snow pack.
At Mission, the river is measuring six meters and is expected to climb even more.
City of Surrey engineers are keeping a close eye on the levels, particularly since Tuesday’s forecast of heavy rainfall throughout the weekend.
Manager of Utilities Jeff Arason said Surrey is keeping a daily watch and holding daily conference calls with the province, which is providing up-to-date forecasts.
“We don’t have any concern about flooding in Bridgeview and Southwestminster,” Arason said. “But there could be localized flooding near Barnston Island at 176 (Street) and 104 (Avenue) area.”
As for Barnston Island, its’ believed water levels will still be below the dikes there.
“But it’s starting to get up there,” Arason said.
On Tuesday morning, the Mission gauge was at about six meters, leaving about another 1.4 meters before risk of a dike breach here.
“Having said that, the city has inspected all of its dikes, we have all of our equipment and materials ready,” Arason said.
Delta is keeping an eye on its flood mitigation systems while watching forecasts closely, conducting daily patrols of it’s 60-k.m. dike system.
“It is a little bit late (in the year) to have a peak like this,” said Mayor Lois Jackson. “But it”s quite predictable really, because we’ve had a cool, calculated melt. But there’s so much snow up there, and we’re getting into the warmer days, and as you saw on the weekend, big rain.”
Jackson said one of the big fears in Delta is the river will undercut the dikes, where “it goes underneath the dike, pops up on the other side, and you’ve got a big problem,” Jackson said. She said the area of biggest concern is Westham Island.
Jackson points out tides play a big role as well, where if peak swells team up with high tides, they may see some over-topping.
New Westminster had completed its sandbagging program on Monday night.
The Leader will keep this story updated as we learn more.