Port Alberni’s Tseshaht First Nation prepares for flooding as more rain looms

Click to play video: 'Flood warning still in effect for Port Alberni' Flood warning still in effect for Port Alberni
WATCH ABOVE: A flood warning is still in effect for the Port Alberni area of Vancouver Island. Two rivers are swollen to near historic levels and the main highway is closed. As Kylie Stanton reports, it could get worse before it gets better – Nov 9, 2016

The Tseshaht First Nation near Port Alberni declared a State of Emergency on Friday.  Today, members are just trying to stay one step ahead of the rain.

“We’ve got Sproat River, Stamp River, Ash River – all feeding into the Somas. It’s those headwaters that we’re most concerned about,” said emergency preparedness coordinator Hugh Braker.

Portions of Highway 4, connecting to Tofino and Ucluelet, is expected to flood, resulting in either one-lane alternating traffic and possibly a total closure.

So far, six families from four homes have already been evacuated. Many others located along the river bank are on alert.

“If the river rises as predicted, I anticipate we will be evacuating homes again late Tuesday,” said Braker.

But the weather system is starting to shift north. Courtenay and Comox are expected to be the hardest hit. Only 35 millimetres of rain is in the forecast, but up to another 125 millimetres of runoff from the nearby mountains could compound the situation.

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Further north at Elk Falls near Campbell River, the levels are already high. The BC Hydro dam upstream is planning to increase the flow. Between that, the potential for storm surge, strong winds and high tides over the next couple of days, it makes it an area to watch.

But the storm is expected to shift south again, picking up in Port Alberni overnight. Fifty to 100 millimetres of rain could fall.

WATCH: A First Nation near Port Alberni has declared a state of emergency. As Kylie Stanton reports, the community has been busy sandbagging, preparing for potential flooding.

Click to play video: 'Port Alberni area braces for flooding' Port Alberni area braces for flooding
Port Alberni area braces for flooding – Nov 7, 2016

It’s not the first time the region has dealt with massive flooding. In 2014, the event was referred to as “The Flood of the Century.”  It prompted the City to move forward with the Dry Creek Improvement Project, meant to protect Port Alberni’s commercial district from flooding.

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“It’s handled the amount of rain we’ve had over the last two or three weeks quite well. We’ve had no issues in this area where we would’ve had issues in the past,” Port Alberni’s manager of operations Wilf Taekema said.

But that’s of no help to the First Nation, left filling sandbags and doing everything they can to protect their homes.

Braker said, “It’s not looking very good at all. We’re rather pessimistic right now.”

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