‘There’s nothing to stop it’: Floodwaters rising in Abbotsford as Nooksack River overflows

November 29, 2021
'There's nothing to stop it': Floodwaters rising in Abbotsford as Nooksack River overflows

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun says he’s increasingly concerned about rising waters in and around his city as a series of atmospheric rivers continues to pummel B.C.’s South Coast. 

During a news conference on Sunday, Braun said Whatcom Country in Washington state had advised that water has now risen above a dike on the Nooksack River, and it’s pooling between the river and a nearby road. 

Braun expects the water flow to reach Abbotsford sometime Sunday, as existing sandbag walls are not enough to stop the Nooksack River.

“It’s gonna go over Main Street [in Everson, Wash.], and then it’s headed here. There’s nothing to stop it after that,” Braun said.

The Nooksack River, which flows through Washington state near the B.C. border, is seen overflowing its banks in a photograph from Whatcom County, Wash., on Nov. 20, 2021. (Whatcom County Government/Twitter)

The city has received 100 millimetres of rain this weekend, snow is melting, temperatures are rising and more rain is forecast for the coming days. Braun said water levels in the Sumas Prairie lake bottom have risen 75 millimetres since Saturday.

Localized flooding has taken over the Clayburn Village area of Abbotsford, which remains under evacuation alert, and Braun says water levels have reached about 450 millimetres. 

Crews, including military personnel, continue to sandbag areas prone to flooding and other mitigation work is being done. Braun said the community has everything it needs to be prepared, thanks to help from the provincial and federal governments. 

He said the city doesn’t need more resources — instead, they must wait and see what happens next.

“We can’t just throw more stuff at it,” Braun said.

“I am confident that we have done what we can do, and we are as ready as we can be for the event that is about to unfold.”

An evacuation order was issued in Abbotsford’s Huntingdon Village area in the early hours of Sunday as water from Washington state poured into the neighbourhood. The order impacts about 90 properties.

Evacuation orders for residents of the Sumas Prairie and Straiton areas remain in effect. 

“I would urge [residents] to heed our warnings, to obey the orders and to leave, because tomorrow the world may look quite different over there,” Braun said.

Evacuees are encouraged to register with Emergency Support Services.

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