The City of Abbotsford, B.C., is lifting a third evacuation order for the Sumas Prairie, leaving only one in effect more than three weeks after the region was flooded.
All rapid damage assessments on houses, barns, garages and other structures in the Sumas Prairie south zone are complete, Mayor Henry Braun said Wednesday.
Residents can return home immediately, but the area remains under an evacuation alert.
The remaining evacuation order is for the Sumas Prairie Lake Bottom, which has seen a 50.8-centimetre drop in flood waters in the past few days.
Braun estimated a couple of hundred people were still impacted by that evacuation order.
“With the significant progress we’ve made in reducing water levels in this area, we have also made good progress on conducting road, bridge and culvert rapid damage assessments, which supports us safely getting people back to their properties in the near future,” he said.
All of Sumas Prairie remains under a ‘do not use’ water advisory, and on Wednesday, Abbotsford began a new disinfecting regime on the area’s drinking water system.
Another drinking water station will be available to residents beginning Thursday at Whatcom and Vye roads.
“Please don’t be shy and use the supply as needed,” said Braun.
While Abbotsford remains in the flood “response” rather than “recovery” stage of operations, Braun said more conversations were starting to take place about the economic future of the region, particularly as it pertains to farmers.
“I was out there earlier this morning and I can see that there’s silt on a lot of broccoli and cauliflower fields,” he said.
“I am concerned about the farmers who weren’t able to harvest their cold crops … If it takes a year or two to till that soil, they’re not going to have any revenue for a couple of years.”
It’s an issue he has raised with the provincial and federal governments, he added.
While damage estimates are not yet complete, the floods and mudslides caused by November’s atmospheric rivers are poised to become the most costly natural disaster in Canadian history.