A property in Sumas Prairie as seen from Highway 1 on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

A property in Sumas Prairie as seen from Highway 1 on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)

Abbotsford mayor cautiously optimistic but city bracing for more rain ahead

Dike repairs progressing as Barrowtown pumps work at full capacity

Based on the current weather forecast, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said he is cautiously optimistic that flood recovery and related repairs would continue to progress.

“We’re supposed to get 80 to 100 millimetres of rain in the next four days,” Braun said in a media briefing Sunday afternoon. “If it’s spread out over four days, I’m optimistic the system is currently working the way it’s supposed to.”

He added that if the rain were to fall within 24 hours, that could present a big problem with water rising over the Canada-U.S. border again.

RELATED: Section of Hwy. 1 between Popkum, Hope opens to essential traffic only

“The situation remains fluid and is related directly to how much the weather continues to cooperate,” Braun said. He added the city is working with Environment Canada on detailed weather supports to prepare as much as possible.

Braun said the Barrowtown flood gates are fully open, sending water from the Sumas River into the Fraser River. The Barrowtown pumps are operating at full capacity.

Dike repairs are progressing, and water is no longer flowing into the eastern portion of the prairie lake bottom; Braun said the water levels in the eastern Sumas prairie dropped three inches in the first six hours of operation. However, the flow of water into the rising Sumas River creates a new front of the battle against the flood.

Braun thanked the volunteers from Chilliwack and Abbotsford who worked through the night to sandbag at the Barrowtown Pump Station.

“They may be small in number, but they are mighty,” he added. “Please know your efforts are so very greatly appreciated. I can’t express how vital it is.”

Braun said the pump station came “extremely close” to failure.

RELATED: Royal Canadian Air Force arrives in Abbotsford to help shore up flood fight

“I have a whole new appreciation of just how close we came to this being much, much worse,” Braun said.

As of the 2 p.m. briefing, structural engineers have assessed 70 kilometres of road and 158 culverts in the flood area. As city crews work to repair drinking water infrastructure, the water boil advisory remains in effect.

Braun said more than 800 people have checked in to reception centres in Abbotsford and Chilliwack. 200 people have used emergency support at the Tradex and 45 people are still expected to stay overnight.

Braun said the State of Local Emergency was extended until Monday, Nov. 29.

“A week into this emergency, I am truly grateful for all the amazing staff that have worked day and night,” he said. “I continue to hear from people who desperately want to help.”

To learn more about how you can help aid the flood recovery efforts, visit abbotsford.ca.


@adamEditor18
adam.louis@ ahobserver.com

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