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Flooding forces evacuations in Vancouver Island First Nations community

Click to play video: 'Vancouver Island flooding closes Highway 4' Vancouver Island flooding closes Highway 4
Vancouver Island flooding closes Highway 4 – Nov 9, 2016

PORT ALBERNI, B.C. – The Tseshaht First Nation on central Vancouver Island says nine families have been moved out due to flooding in the community.

More evacuations could be on the way, said Emergency Preparedness Co-ordinator Hugh Braker, noting the Somass River continued to swell Tuesday and heavy rains in the area have not let up.

Officials have told the First Nation that the river will continue rising until Wednesday afternoon, Braker said.

“To be quite honest, I’m rather pessimistic about some of the homes. I’m expecting major damage by morning if the river keeps rising as they’re saying it is,” he said on Wednesday night.

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

The Tseshaht First Nation is operating under a state of emergency, with the school closed indefinitely and a boil water advisory in place for about half of the community.

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Braker said crews spent much of Tuesday filling and placing in an attempt to protect homes, but had to stop when they lost daylight.

Flooding has also cut off the main road in and out of the community. Drive BC shows Highway 4 has been closed in both directions due to flooding, and motorists were advised to expect detours of about 20 minutes in each direction.

Flooding forces evacuations in Vancouver Island First Nations community - image
Jonathan Bartlett, Global News

The First Nation and the nearby city of Port Alberni were devastated by a flood in 2014, and Braker said people are concerned this event could rival the previous disaster.

“There’s a lot of worried people here. They went through a big flood in 2014 and they’re worried they’re facing the same thing,” he said.

Environment Canada had a rainfall warning for the area posted Monday night, and forecast that between 20 and 30 millimetres of rain would fall before the skies clear up Wednesday.

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