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Canadian Army to Build Dike in Abbotsford to Save Sumas Prairie

Dike will flood a dozen homes but “it must be done”, says Abbotsford mayor

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Canadian Army engineers and contractors will begin constructing a two-kilometer seawall at dawn Friday to deal with a broken Abbotsford seawall that allows water to drain into the already flooded Sumas Prairie.

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Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said it would flood a dozen homes and businesses wedged between the failing section of the dike on the southern edge of the Sumas Lake Canal and Highway 1 (which would be used as part of the dike system), but the city had no other options.

“It has to be done,” Braun said. “Until this is done, water continues to flow into the Sumas Grassland.”

Narinder Bhangal, whose nursery on the 38700 block of North Parallel Road is in the dike flood zone, told Postmedia News he had heard nothing from the town. He said there was already three feet of flood water in his newly built home on the property which his family had evacuated.

Bhangal said he wanted the chance to return home to collect important items before the waters rise.

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Braun revealed Thursday afternoon that Abbotsford was not only grappling with a critical situation at the Barrowtown Pumping Station, which is sucking water from the Sumas Canal and into the Fraser River, but two large breaches had occurred. produced in the dike system that cuts through the western flank of the Sumas Grassland. There were also several small breaches in the dike.

The larger breach, near the western end of Highway # 4, is 100 meters wide and three meters deep, and allows water to drain from the west side of the meadow to the east side, which is the lowest point of what was once a lake until it was drained for farms a century ago. This leads people in the western regions to believe that the floodwaters are decreasing, when in fact it only makes the situation worse in the east, where some barns are now on the verge of being covered with water. .

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Braun said 600 people were evacuated from the grasslands as farmers did all they could to save the cattle. He said the total bill for dike repairs and flood compensation in his town will exceed $ 1 billion and those affected by the construction of the dike will be notified by the provincial government.

The mayor’s grim financial toll came two days after he issued a late-night warning that the Barrowtown pumping station was on the verge of bankruptcy. If that had been the case, it would have been catastrophic as the Fraser River would have flooded the entire area, adding another three meters of water to the existing flooding.

A group of 200 residents put the station in sandbags, essentially erecting a dam that prevented rising waters from entering the station and destroying the pumps.

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Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said on Thursday the province will also provide 40,000 sandbags to help protect the pumping station.

Braun said repair work on the seawall is due to take place now, with rain forecast and a river in Washington state still pushing water north.

“80 to 100 millimeters of rain are forecast for next week, starting on Tuesday,” he said.

Agriculture Minister Lana Popham told the legislature on Thursday afternoon that the province planned to airlift food and water to dairy barns that were not fully flooded and where the animals were still alive. An estimated 10 percent of the 20,000 dairy cows in the Sumas Prairie flood area were dead.

“We know of many areas that are ready to send us food right now, including food that was secured at the Port of Vancouver and was on its way to China. It looks like we can turn it around and bring it back to the Fraser Valley, ”Popham said.

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Grain on the ship was seized using state of emergency powers declared on Wednesday in response to flooding and landslides that began Sunday after record-breaking rainfall flooded much of the southern part of the province for over 48 hours.

Chilliwack-Kent MP Kelli Paddon said Molson Brewery also donated 100 tonnes of grain to farmers.

Mayor Ken Popove of Chilliwack, which borders Abbotsford, said about 12 homes in the community of Yarrow have been evacuated due to flooding.

Canadian Forces personnel began arriving in British Columbia on Thursday and lifting Abbotsford would be their first major posting. The dike will be built with earth, concrete blocks and sandbags. Canadian Army engineers designed and built the Sumas Drainage Canal over 100 years ago, Braun said.

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A C-130 Hercules is en route from CFB Trenton while a helicopter from CFB Edmonton and another from CFB Esquimalt are on standby.

RCMP confirmed Thursday that four people were still missing in a landslide that pushed several cars off Highway 99 near Pemberton. One person died after the discovery of a body on Monday.

On Thursday, Highway 7 was opened between Hope and Agassiz to allow 1,000 passenger vehicles to be escorted from Hope, where they had been stranded since Sunday evening. Highway 7 between Hope and Agassiz is now only open to commercial vehicles.

According to Transport Minister Rob Fleming, Highway 3 is expected to be open by the end of the week and Highway 99 near Pemberton is expected to reopen for limited travel “in the coming days.”

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Fleming said Highway 1 on Vancouver Island at Malahat is now open to alternating single-lane traffic.

Highway 1 in the Fraser Valley remains closed due to flooding. Highway 1 from Boston Bar to Hope has reopened for essential service vehicles only.

Fleming said the government is seeking fuel purchase agreements with Alberta and Washington because the Trans Mountain pipeline – which carries oil from Alberta to British Columbia – is closed due to flooding.

Meanwhile, there is no rail access from the rest of Canada to the Port of Vancouver, resulting in hundreds of thousands of tonnes of grain being stranded in transit. There are approximately 20 vessels awaiting delivery off Vancouver.

Farnworth also hinted Thursday that there may be an upcoming non-essential travel ban.

With files from the Canadian Press

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Rodney N.

The author Rodney N.