“The storm is not over.”
That was the message from British Columbia’s public safety minister as the province is still feeling the effect of a third atmospheric river.
Speaking at a press conference Wednesday, Mike Farnworth said it remains to be seen how much damage has been caused by the storm, adding that the province is doing everything it can to make sure people and communities have the resources and support they need.
He said uncertainty and anxiety are common during such an extremely challenging time and he urged anyone who is struggling to use publicly available mental health supports.
“Please know, you’re not alone,” Farnworth said.
The third in a series of atmospheric rivers will bring heavy rainfall to B.C.’s South Coast on Wednesday with 20 to 40 millimetres of precipitation expected before rains ease in the evening, Environment Canada said.
Transportation Minister Rob Fleming gave an update on highway closures in the province.
Fleming said Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet was closed. A travel advisory was issued for Highway 20 was in the Bella Coola Valley.
Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley remains closed between Abbotsford and Chilliwack.
On the east side of Chilliwack, Highway 1 is closed between Popkum and Hope.
In the Fraser Canyon, Highway 1 is open between Hope and Boothroyd but closed between Boothroyd and Spences Bridge, Fleming said.
A stretch of Highway 7 near Seabird Island was closed due to a mudslide, closing the highway between Agassiz and Hope. The debris has since been cleared and the area is open, Fleming said.
Highways 7 and 3 remain the only major routes connecting the Lower Mainland to the B.C.’s Interior, although those routes could face closures at any time.
Heavy rains and snowmelt have officials keeping a close eye on rivers, particularly in the hard-hit Sumas Prairie.
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said the floodgates at the Barrowtown Pump Station remain open, allowing any water from the U.S. to flow directly into the Sumas River and then the Fraser River.
Evacuation orders were issued for three properties on Tuesday, while an evacuation alert has been issued for Lower Sumas Mountain Road and Florence Drive.
Braun said the city’s infrastructure is holding up so far and officials in Whatcom County are not expecting the Nooksack River to overflow its banks in the next few days, although the situation remains dynamic.
Elsewhere in B.C., the Village of Pemberton issued an evacuation alert for Vine Road and Highway 99.
The City of Mission declared a local state of emergency for the Benbow Street area on Tuesday and an evacuation order was issued for the Benbow Street sub-division in Hatzic for the second time.
The City of Maple Ridge has warned residents along the north and south Alouette River to be on alert and have an emergency plan in place.
— with files from Catherine Garrett and The Canadian Press