Emergency officials in British Columbia on Sunday provided an update on flooding as the province braces for another series of intense storms.
“The third in a trio of storms is expected to hit us mid-week,” Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said during a news conference. “The next storm could be the most intense since the original storm hit two weeks ago.”
Part of the storm moved in on Saturday forcing preemptive closures of Highway 1, Highway 3 and Highway 99.
According to Transportation Minister Rob Fleming, some trees and minor debris came down on Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton. Crews are working to clear the highways while rainfall is lighter.
There is no timeline as to when Highway 3 will reopen.
Prior to the closure on Saturday, more than 4,000 commercial vehicles were able to move through the corridor to help relieve strain on the supply chain.
Emergency officials also asked that residents not travel unless essential.
“The priory of the time being will continue to be commercial vehicles,” Fleming said. “When the highway does reopen, it will be commercial vehicles and essential travel only.”
Farnworth said emergency managers at the local and provincial levels will continue to closely coordinate through the days ahead.
Meanwhile, the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen Emergency Operations Centre released an update on Sunday advising residents to be aware of potential flooding.
Evacuation alerts were issued along the Similkameen River and Tulameen River — areas prone to flooding that may flood again as the weather changes.
The City of Merritt continues to work with the BC River Forecast Centre and has observed a rise in the Coldwater River at the Brookmere gauge.
“All residents under an Evacuation Order, everywhere south of Nicola Avenue in Merritt, need to leave the area by 3 p.m. today. Day access will be suspended until further notice after 3 p.m. today as well,” the city said in a press release on Sunday.
Added Mayor Linda Brown: “Despite an incredible effort by City crews to reinforce and restore the banks of the Coldwater River, our community is still vulnerable to flooding. The river is rising and we are monitoring our river banks and are prepared to do what is necessary to keep our citizens safe.”
An evacuation alert was also put into effect in the Pemberton Meadows area, and just beyond Merritt and Spences Bridge. Residents were advised to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.
B.C. officials said they’re prepared to use the Alert Ready emergency notification system if necessary.