Residents and travellers in Agassiz-Harrison woke up to sunny skies – and plenty of work cut out for them – two days of torrential rain, flooding and catastrophic landslides.
Rescue crews from local agencies and Canada Task Force 1 (CAN-TF1) will be spending Tuesday searching for people who may have been trapped in the debris along the Lougheed Highway between Agassiz and Hope after two landslides stranded hundreds of people and vehicles.
CAN-TF1 helicopters air-lifted nearly 300 people to the Agassiz Agricultural Hall to warm up and recover after many of them had been stranded overnight. Community members were swift to answer a call for donations of food and water, so much so that not even 24 hours after the initial call, the Ag Hall was at capacity. As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, volunteers are looking for anyone willing to work the night shift, midnight to 8 a.m., to assist those still sheltering.
The Lougheed Highway near Harrison Mills west of Agassiz remains closed due to landslides and flooding. B.C. Highway 1 is closed in multiple areas throughout the Lower Mainland, including Northbound between Popkum and Herrling Island. There appears to be no further issues along Hot Springs Road leading in and out of Harrison.
Most roads in the Agassiz-Harrison area appear to be clear. However, the District of Kent says within Agassiz, Sutherland Road and a section of Humphrey Road are open to local traffic only due to flooding.
As Tuesday morning rolled on, offers to go on supply run, provide shelter and other offers of assistance have filled local social media groups along with powerful footage and photos of local floods.
The District of Kent, Village of Harrison Hot Springs and the Fraser Valley Regional District have all declared states of local emergency to expedite moving government aid to those in need.
Kent officials have issued an evacuation order for residents along Rockwell Drive near Harrison, north of Lillooet Road. Residents under evacuation order are advised to take critical items such as medicine, ID, passport, wallet, and keys, shut off electrical appliances other than the refrigerator and freezers.
Evacuees are asked to register at the District of Kent Emergency Support Services reception centre at the Riverside Christian Reformed Church at 7452 Morrow Road. Kent-Harrison Search and Rescue and local RCMP are assisting with evacuations via boat.
Residents throughout the district are asked to avoid using excess water for approximately the next 24 hours to relieve pressure on the water and wastewater infrastructure already close to capacity because of the flooding. If it is safe to do so, the district encourages residents to clear storm drains of debris to help drain the flood waters.
District officials further advise avoiding many public parks at this time due to flooding and debris. If you must access these areas, use extreme caution as trees may collapse due to ground saturation and strong winds.
In the village of Harrison Hot Springs, village officials have commended residents in conserving water use.
”Your cooperation and efforts are making a difference and we wish to thank you for helping us keep the system functioning,” village officials said in a Facebook post Tuesday morning.
Village officials asked Harrison residents to continue limiting water use for the next 48 hours to allow the infrastructure to process present and near-future storm water.
More to come.
– With files from Canadian Press