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Flooding after massive downpour leads to damage, states of emergency on B.C. South Coast

Click to play video: 'Flooding causes issues across B.C. South Coast' Flooding causes issues across B.C. South Coast
Several communities across Metro Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley are under flood watch and are seeing impacts of heavy rains that fell non-stop overnight. Kasia Bodurka also looks at what comes next in the weather – Feb 1, 2020

Residents across B.C.’s South Coast began the month of February cleaning up the mess from heavy flooding, with some communities seeing evacuations and road closures.

Heavy rains that began Thursday afternoon continued to fall in buckets throughout Friday and into the overnight hours, raising water levels across the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

READ MORE: Atmospheric river brings heavy rain, wind, flooding to B.C.’s south coast

By the time Environment Canada lifted its rainfall warnings for the coast early Saturday morning, Metro Vancouver had seen between 55 millimetres at Vancouver International Airport and 138 millimetres in Pitt Meadows.

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The North Shore and Metro Vancouver remained under a flood watch Saturday, with parts of Maple Ridge and Port Coquitlam still seeing road closures due to pooling water Saturday morning.

While most roads were later reopened, trails and parks were closed in those and other municipalities.

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Other parts of the region saw pooling in farmers’ fields, particularly those surrounding highways south of the Fraser River in Surrey and Langley.

Water ended up flooding the road at 201 Street and 100 Avenue in Langley, however, after a water main burst open just after noon.

Flooding was seen on Highway 10 and 177B Street in Cloverdale Friday night, with water seen gushing out of the manhole cover in the middle of the intersection amid heavy rush hour traffic.

The heavy rains also caused two mudslides to come down along the Crescent Beach bluff in the South Surrey-White Rock area Friday, stalling freight train traffic until later Saturday.

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Click to play video: 'Localized flood warnings issued for parts of B.C. South Coast' Localized flood warnings issued for parts of B.C. South Coast
Localized flood warnings issued for parts of B.C. South Coast – Jan 31, 2020

However, Amtrak passenger train service between Vancouver, B.C., and Bellingham, Wash., has been suspended, with service not expected to resume until at least Monday.

A spokesperson for BNSF Railway said smaller slides continued in the same area overnight, making it difficult for crews to clear debris in the wet and sloppy conditions.

The flooding also extended to the Fraser Valley, where the City of Abbotsford warned drivers to be cautious about driving through water-covered roads.

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The heavy rains caused a landslide on Hemlock Valley Road, cutting off access to and from Sasquatch Mountain Resort near Agassiz.

Skiers and snowboarders on the mountain are being served food in the cafeteria and restaurant, where power is being fed from backup generators.

The impacts of the rains prompted the District of Kent to issue a local state of emergency Saturday, saying localized flooding and rockfall has damaged potable water infrastructure throughout the area.

Drinking water has also been cut off due to a water main break, and drivers are being urged to steer clear of Rockwell Drive to the unstable highway and fast moving waters.

Evacuation notices have been issued for a number of homes in the Rockwell Drive area.

In Chilliwack, heavy winds that blew in overnight and lasted through the morning knocked out power to over 15,000 customers at the height of the wind gusts. BC Hydro says roughly 22,000 customers were without power at one point across the Lower Mainland.

READ MORE: Coquihalla Highway reopened after earlier flooding, road debris

Several of those outages were due to felled trees and branches taking down power lines.

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BC Hydro said crews were working hard to restore service, and will provide restoration times “as they become available.”

Further east, the Coquihalla Highway was closed due to flooding between Peers Creek Road and the intersection of Highways 5A and 97C. The highway was finally reopened Saturday afternoon.

On the Sunshine Coast, meanwhile, a section of Lower Road at Highway 101 was washed out between Roberts Creek and Gibsons, forcing the road to close.

Island sees flooding, evacuations

On Vancouver Island, a flood watch issued late Friday night remained in place for western, eastern and southern sections.

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The River Forecast Centre particularly pointed to the San Juan River near Port Renfrew, the Cowichan River near Duncan and the Little Qualicum River near Qualicum Beach.

By Saturday morning, the Tofino-Ucluelet region had seen 172 millimetres of rain, with Port Alberni receiving 81 millimetres and North Cowichan seeing 67 millimetres.

The Cowichan Valley Regional District issued a local state of emergency over “intense” flooding that began Friday evening.

Nearly 30 residents were evacuated from parts of North Cowichan and the Halalt First Nation, who are staying at the Cowichan Community Centre in Duncan.

The Sunshine Coast Regional District on Sunday issued an Evacuation Alert to residents of localized areas in Roberts Creek, due to the risk caused by debris flow caused by localized flooding.

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Crews were forced to close Highway 1 in both directions south of the Chemainus River Bridge due to water crossing the highway.

Along the Nanaimo River, search and rescue crews had to help people stranded in vehicles by the high waters, along with evacuations of nearby trailer parks.

“The last time the river flooded to this stage, it was 2007,” Percy Tipping with the North Cedar Fire Department said. “It was a little surprising how fast it came up.”

READ MORE: Category 4 Atmospheric River hits B.C. coast: What is it and what does it mean?

In Saanich and several other island communities, officials warned drainage systems were being backed up due to the deluge of rain, with crews working to address flooding at homes and businesses.

BC Ferries warned travellers heading to the Duke Point and Departure Bay terminals that Highways 1, 19 and 19A have been impacted by the heavy rains.

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Several parts of the island and the Southern Gulf Islands saw their own power outages due to high winds overnight, with a total of 1,700 customers out by 4:30 p.m.

In the south, the outages were largely in the Duncan and Greater Victoria areas.

Further north, over 450 customers lost power in Port Alberni, with pockets of outages also reported in Nanaimo and Port Hardy.

Click to play video: 'B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan 31' B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan 31
B.C. evening weather forecast: Jan 31 – Jan 31, 2020

Detailed information about road closures can be found on Drive BC for highways and on municipal web pages and social media accounts for local roads.

Several municipal public works yards throughout the coast are open for residents to collect sand to fill sandbags.

Homeowners and businesses experiencing flooding can call 3-1-1 or visit their municipality’s website for more information on how to contact crews.

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