Flooding wreaks havoc on Highway 20 at the Ann Creek bridge in Firvale on Saturday.

Flooding wreaks havoc on Highway 20 at the Ann Creek bridge in Firvale on Saturday.

Bella Coola flooding subsides; highway open

The emergency operations centre in the Bella Coola area stood down Sunday following a frenzied few days of flooding due to heavy rainfall.

  • Sep. 27, 2011 11:00 a.m.

The emergency operations centre in the Bella Coola area stood down Sunday following a frenzied few days of  flooding due to heavy rainfall.

The emergency started Sept. 20 with the Central Coast Regional District  Emergency program announcing it was monitoring a series of storm systems across the Pacific Ocean, which were expected to bring “considerable” amounts of rainfall to coastal areas of B.C.

At that time, the B.C. River Forecast Centre issued a high streamflow advisory for watersheds along the north and central coasts.

On Sept. 22, the CCRD established an emergency operations centre to monitor rainfall and rising stream systems in the Bella Coola Valley and Oweekeno regions.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre’s high streamflow advisory was upgraded to a flood watch for Bella Bella, Bella Coola, Kingcome, Owikeeno Lake/River’s Inlet and surrounding areas Sept. 23.

That same day, Highway 20 was closed in both directions 20 kilometres east of Bella Coola and 40 km west of Anahim Lake due to washout. It was also announced that the community of Hagensborg was without potable water.

River levels already high from previous rainfall rose further and, combined with overnight precipitation, continued to rise. The CCRD reported that flood conditions were expected on rivers throughout the region.

It declared a state of local emergency and issued evacuation orders for several areas in the Bella Coola Valley and Dean River area. The communities of Hagensborg and Walker Island were issued evacuation orders that affected approximately 45 homes. Several fishing camps in the Dean River area of the regional district also evacuated guests.

Highway 20 opened for a period on Saturday. As well, the Hagensborg Waterworks service was restored.

Rainfall was expected to increase throughout Saturday and overnight and the Bella Coola River and its tributaries were expected to rise again. The B.C. River Forecast Centre maintained a flood warning for the Central Coast.

On Sunday the CCRD’s emergency operations centre said it was standing down. Highway 20 was once again open between Bella Coola and Anahim Lake.

No one from the Central Coast Regional District was available to comment on this story by press time.

— With files from Christina Boucher.

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