The mayor of a B.C. city that has been partially underwater for days started his daily update on recovery efforts with what he described as “more good news.”
In a summary of what’s happened since his previous update, Mayor Henry Braun said some residents who’ve been out of their homes since last week are allowed to return.
Properties north of Highway 1 between Sumas Way and Whatcom Road are no longer under evacuation order, he said, though they do remain under an alert, meaning those who go home need to be ready to leave again at short notice.
He said this also includes businesses directly east of Whatcom. And for some trying to get back to survey the damage, they may find their home or business has been deemed unsafe to enter.
Braun said rapid damage assessments have been completed, and advise whether additional work is required before it is safe. Owners and tenants will find out about their property through a placard placed on the door.
In another good-news update, Braun said water is being pumped from the flooded Sumas Prairie as planned.
“The floodgates remain fully open at Barrowtown Pump Station, which means that at this point, water continues to flow straight from the Sumas River into the Fraser River,” he said.
Crews are working 24 hours a day on dikes to hold the water back, and members of the Canadian Forces are out supporting farmers and performing other tasks, he said.
All bridges have been inspected, as have dozens of kilometres of roadways.
While he started on a positive note, Braun said there’s still a lot to be done in the flood-stricken city.
“We need water levels to abate to be able to continue much of this work,” he said.
“There’s still a big lake out there.”
He added the city is working with other levels of government on support and recovery efforts.
“There’s a lot of work still to be done,” he said.
Braun told reporters at the news conference he’s read notes from residents in the area thanking not only officials, but volunteers and neighbours for their efforts.
“We saw that with farmers helping farmers, and that’s what farmers do,” he said.
Braun added he’s been hearing from people who are looking for ways to help, and thanked staff members who are now on their eighth day of emergency response efforts.
But there’s also a “deep sadness” for what has been lost – the extent of which is not yet known.
And with more heavy rain in the forecast, Braun warned “we are still a long way from being out of danger.”
He said the city and others are closely monitoring the weather with help from Emergency Management B.C. and Environment Canada, and will make plans according to detailed forecasts.