Relief for B.C. as weather warnings lifted; flood warnings and evacuations remain

Environment Canada lifted all weather alerts for British Columbia Thursday as storm conditions eased and floodwater receded, allowing for the reopening of Highway 1.

Crews in the Sumas area between Abbotsford and Chilliwack were taking down a portable dam set up across Highway 1 to hold back floodwaters in anticipation of the reopening Thursday afternoon, B.C.’s Transportation Ministry said in a news release.

The ministry said the highway just east of Highway 9 to Hope, was also expected to open Thursday.

The reopened highway sections do not fall under provincial travel restrictions but drivers are asked to travel only if necessary, the government said.

Despite the lifting of weather alerts, flood warnings remain in effect in many areas where snowmelt is feeding swollen rivers in southern B.C.

Weather and river experts have said conditions were expected to ease Thursday with the passing of the third in a trio of atmospheric rivers.

The River Forecast Centre also lifted all flood watches on Vancouver Island and the central coast, where it says rivers reached peak levels and are now receding.

Flood warnings remain in areas around the Coquihalla, Chilliwack, Tulameen, Similkameen, Coldwater and Lower Nicola rivers, the Lower Fraser tributaries and Spius Creek.

DriveBC warns that highway conditions are dynamic after another landslide closed Highway 99 between Lillooet and Pemberton just hours after it was reopened Wednesday night.

New evacuation orders and alerts have been issued for properties outside Keremeos and Pemberton, while an evacuation order was downgraded to an alert for some parts of Huntingdon village in Abbotsford.

The Fraser Valley city shattered records in November, receiving 540 millimetres of rain, about one-third of its total average annual rainfall.

Mayor Henry Braun said officials are focusing energy on return-to-home plans for all displaced residents while keeping an eye on weather projections.

“Longer-term recovery of our community will absolutely need to be in partnership with the provincial and federal governments and will be focused on rebuilding our critical infrastructure to ensure we do not experience another event of this magnitude or worse,” Braun said Wednesday.

“We simply cannot lose focus on the infrastructure upgrades that are required to keep our community and region safe going forward.”

—The Canadian Press

RELATED: Images show swift runoff water flowing over closed Highway 1 section near Hope

RELATED: Mudslide closes Hwy. 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet

The Canadian Press

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