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Pumps at full capacity, some evacuation orders lifted: Abbotsford mayor

Water levels in Sumas Prairie have dropped by seven inches.
The Barrowtown Pump Station is pumping water from Sumas Prairie into the Fraser River to clear the floodwaters.

Some evacuation orders have been lifted for homes and businesses in Abbotsford, says Mayor Henry Braun, as crews continue to repair the dike holding back the Sumas River.

"With all of these efforts, we saw water levels drop on the Sumas Lake bottom a total of seven inches since the dike breach was sealed yesterday," Braun said during a press conference Monday, Nov. 22.

The pumps at Barrowtown are currently running at full capacity, the major said, pumping water from the Sumas River into the Fraser River.

Properties north of Highway 1 between Sumas Way and Whatcom Road have seen the evacuation order rescinded as have businesses east of Whatcom Road. Braun noted there is still an alert in place for those areas.

Those areas have also had rapid damage assessments done to advise people of the safety of the structures (residents will notice that placards have been attached to buildings).

Another 22,000 acres of land remain under the evacuation order, Braun said.

Repair crews remain on the dike 24 hours a day, he said, adding the city is keeping an eye on the weather. Canadian Forces troops remain in the area to help as well. That includes walking the dike to look for weak spots, helping move feed around to farms and cleaning culverts to make sure water flows where it's supposed to.

Geotechnical assessments continue, but have been hampered by the high water.

When asked by media about looking forward, to recovery, Braun noted it's too soon to look past the current situation.

"We've thought about some things, but we're singularly focused on the flood event which we're still in, and the critical repairs that have to be made before the next weather system comes," he said.

"If we look at other floods, people are in recovery mode for years, and I think this will be the same," he continued.

Earlier today, the province announced Highway 1 would reopen in Abbotsford as waters recede, to allow for emergency agricultural relief between Highway 11 and Cole Road.

"This segment of Highway 1 falls under the province's travel restrictions order. Essential purposes for travel are defined in the travel restrictions order through the Emergency Program Act. RCMP will be onsite to ensure essential access only, as defined by the order," states the province in a press release. "All other vehicles will be turned around."

On Sunday, the dike blocking the Sumas River from flowing into Sumas Prairie was repaired to the point that water stopped flowing into the flooded area. The floodgates at Barrowtown also opened over the weekend, relieving some of the pressure on the pump system.