CHETWYND, B.C. — Officials with the B.C. River Forecast Centre say that water levels in rivers and streams across the Peace Region will likely keep getting higher until peaking early this weekend.
The head of the River Forecast Centre Dave Campbell says that officials upgraded the previous High Streamflow Advisory to a Flood Watch after looking at the amount of rain that is forecast to fall across the Peace, especially closer to the Rocky Mountains. “The way the weather system is working, it’s wrapping moisture around from Alberta and brushing up on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains,” said Campbell. “We’re seeing amounts of 20 to 30 millimetres of rain, even higher than that in some areas so far. It’s expected to keep raining until almost tomorrow morning so we’re maybe a little more than halfway through the rain.”
“It takes a bit of time for that rain to work its way down into the rivers, so its probably not going to be until tomorrow before we start to see the peak in the river levels.” Campbell added that since the rain isn’t forecast to completely clear up until Saturday, water levels won’t likely start to drop until Sunday or early next week.
The District of Chetwynd’s Director of Engineering and Public Works Paul Gordon says that water levels are still rising in that community. “The levels are slowly rising,” said Gordon. “What I find unusual this year is the speed and velocity of the water. That’s what really doing the damage, it’s ferocious.”
Gordon says that one road has already been washed out, and that several others are in danger of being washed out. He explained that Nicholson Road, which was washed out during last year’s flooding, had a temporary culvert installed until a replacement bridge could be built over Windrem Creek. According to Gordon, the rising torrent of water in the creek has once again completely washed the road out.
Further upstream, Gordon says that excavators are working 24 hours a day to keep two other crossings from washing out as well. “At our post office there’s a bridge. The problem is that even though it was designed for a 200-year event, sediment coming down the creek settles under the bridge, so I have to have excavators there hauling away gravel to keep the water from overtopping. That’ll be a 24-hour operation for probably the next two or three days.” He added that the culverts under the CN Rail tracks that were also washed out are once again experiencing the same problem, and another excavator is removing accumulating debris at full speed.
Gordon also says that after sustaining $500,000 in damage last year, Spirit Park could also once again see the same amount of damage.