Xat’sull First Nation has been awarded $150,000 for flood planning from the Community Emergency Preparedness Fund administered through the Union of B.C. Municipalities.
Chief Sheri Sellars said the funds will go toward completing the second phase of the community’s flood hazard study.
“We will be looking at the overall flooding in the whole area,” she told the Tribune. “Freshet comes in and floods an area annually so we are trying to mitigate that risk.”
Sellars said they started looking at the issue of flooding in 2020 when Sonny Lane, one of the roads in the community, was flooded and cut off access to five homes.
“In the last few years it has been getting worse and for the second time in the last five years, Mountain House Road was flooded and could not be used.”
Hawks Creek is the main waterway that has flooded and Sellars said it runs all the way from Rose Lake to the Fraser River.
Skywest Environmental is working on the project for the community.
During the first phase of the project, last fall, Sellars said they dealt with the immediate emergency and tried to get ahead of freshet in 2021.
“We had to look at all the different angles to see how we could get that fixed before freshet came in as much as we could. We lifted up Sonny Lake Road so the people in the five homes wouldn’t get trapped and flooding wouldn’t happen for them again.”
It helped immensely and the impacted Sonny Lane residents had no problems in freshet 2021.
Wildfires in 2017 devastated the top corner of the south end of Xat’sull First Nations IR#2 Deep Creek as well as along the border of the reserve.
“At the same time the burned timber was logged around Hawks Creek so I think it did have an impact.”
The $77-million Community Emergency Preparedness Fund is vital in helping communities prepare for local emergencies, such as floods and wildfires, said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General.
“These funds have supported emergency operations centres, emergency support services, mitigation projects, response training and cultural humility training so that First Nations and local governments can better get ahead of what might come.”
Jennifer Rice, parliamentary secretary for emergency preparedness, said the province has been working hard to help communities prepare for emergencies, and this program is a great way to support local emergency preparation priorities.
“This is about continuing to collaborate with First Nations and local governments on emergency management and get to the root of what is needed to manage risks.”
Learning they got the funding was very good news, Sellars said.
“We knew we were going to do it anyway, but we applied for funding in case it could help us.”