Regional district issues local state of emergency over flood threat

Local state of emergency

UPDATE 3:35 p.m.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Board has declared a state of local emergency for the entire Boundary region.

The RDKB is taking the step to provide its Emergency Operations Centre “greater flexibility to access resources and respond efficiently to the imminent threat of widespread flooding across the region.”

“This includes the installation of temporary flood protection works planned for this weekend across the Grand Forks area. Residents are advised to stay well clear of any ongoing flood protection activities and to expect traffic disruptions or changes,” the RDKB said.

The local state of includes the electoral areas C/Christina Lake, D/Rural Grand Forks and E/West Boundary as well as the municipalities of Grand Forks, Greenwood and Midway.

ORIGINAL 12:25 p.m.

The potential of thunderstorms in the B.C. Southern Interior has forecasters expecting river levels in the Boundary region to rise quickly early next week. 

The B.C. River Forecast Centre says the Granby River near Grand Forks and West Kettle River near Westbridge could exceed 100-year return levels and be briefly in excess of 2018’s peak. 

The West Kettle could average 437 cubic metres a second on Monday, above the 2018 peak of 313 metres a second. The forecast, however, says the peak should be very brief and return to previous levels the next day.

“Environment Canada has forecast temperatures to reach the mid-thirties by Saturday, May 30 — twelve degrees above seasonal norms — with rain and possible thunderstorms late Sunday and into Monday,” the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said Thursday afternoon.

“This freshet has really been unrelenting in the sense that the Kettle River has been close to bank-full for over a month now. This means any spike in temperature or precipitation puts low-lying areas immediately at risk of flooding,” said Mark Stephens, EOC Director, adding they are "watching for a scenario that could approach or exceed what we saw in 2017 where low-lying properties were flooded and we saw access to some roads cut off.”

The BC River Forecast Centre has placed the entire Boundary region under a flood watch, which indicates “flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.”

The RDKB said they are mobilizing flood mitigation resources like Tiger Dams to protect communities and infrastructure.

“We are all nervous about seeing another flood scenario given the data, models and forecasts on websites and shared on social media. What is different in 2020 is the extent to which the City of Grand Forks and the Regional District have collaborated on flood preparation. We have never, as a City, or as citizens, been more prepared, and the City is fully involved in the EOC every day through our operational and planning staff,” said Brian Taylor, Mayor of Grand Forks.

Sandbags and sand are currently available for residents in the following locations free of charge:
• Beaverdell behind the Fire Hall
• Westbridge Hall
• Riverside Centre in Rock Creek
• Grand Forks Arena

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