Smithers in a battle with Mother Nature as ice jams on river continues to grow
The town of Smithers is still in a battle with Mother Nature as the ice jams on the Bulkley River continue to grow.
The temperature in the region continues to drop with the forecast calling for ‒19 and ‒20 degrees over the next few nights.
The jams — now about 13 kilometres long — have formed in the area between Main Street and Dohler Flats, with minor overland flooding in the Ebenezer Flats area.
About 20 homeowners are still on evacuation alert, with some already having left their homes voluntarily.
People who have called the area home for many years say they can only remember one other time when ice jams formed on the Bulkley River. They have been using multiple pumps to try to keep water from getting into their homes while district work crews have been sending heated water from a nearby mill into the river in the hopes of melting some of the ice.
With the dropping temperatures however, residents are concerned the ice jams will only get bigger and become more problematic.
“The general feeling is that the river trumps everything,” said Brandon Zimmerman, a local resident. “The ecosystem is of importance around here so any talk of trying to change any of the landscape anywhere near the river is met with, I wouldn’t say hostility, but a firm hand.”
This area of Smithers is known for flooding. In May 2002, the same area was the centre of a major sandbagging operation as the Bulkley River overflowed its banks during the spring runoff.
-With files from Jon Azpiri
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