Jesse McCullough and Cass Hall fill sandbags at the Grand Forks arena on May 28, 2020.                                (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

Jesse McCullough and Cass Hall fill sandbags at the Grand Forks arena on May 28, 2020. (Jensen Edwards/Grand Forks Gazette)

State of Local Emergency declared for Boundary as communities brace for river flooding

Warm weather and heavy rain could cause sections of Kettle River system to swell beyond 2018 levels

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary declared a State of Local Emergency on May 29, anticipating possible flooding events across the Boundary region.

Temperatures across the Boundary are projected to be more than 10 degrees above average this weekend, and erratic thunderstorms could dump between 15 and 30 millimetres of rain across the Kettle River watershed. Together, the hot air and rainfall will accelerate snowmelt and possibly cause the river system to swell beyond its banks.

Considering the forecast, the BC River Forecast Centre issued a Flood Watch advisory for the Boundary region Thursday.

River flow forecast graphs for the region have dipped and climbed over the past week, as the weekend weather approaches. As of May 29, the west end of the Kettle River system near Westbridge is predicted to peak above 2018 levels, when low-lying properties in that region were damaged in a one in 100-year flood event.

As the Kettle flows east towards Grand Forks, however, a forecast graph from Ferry, Wash., indicates that the river will climb just slightly higher than it did last week. The Granby River, which flows into the Kettle at Grand Forks, is also projected to exceed 2018 levels, which could coincide with the Kettle’s peak as well.

The Kettle River has been running near its bank-full capacity for over a month, and at its latest crest on May 19 overran a damaged berm and flooded into the Grand Forks neighbourhood of Johnson Flats, affecting two structures and prompting an evacuation order to six properties in the area.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary (RDKB) said Thursday that members of its flood response team have since looked at the berm, which was damaged in the 2018 flood, but currently have no plan to reinforce it before the next crest.

“We have already initiated operational preparations by bringing in Tiger Dam and flood response experts to our team and will start to place equipment to protect core communities and major infrastructure if more accurate flood predictions before the weekend show that needs to happen,” said Mark Stephens, RDKB emergency operations manager.

Sandbags are available to residents across the region, in Beaverdell, Westbridge, Rock Creek and Grand Forks.

Residents can follow regional district updates at emergency.rdkb.com.

“Anyone at risk of flooding should stay informed about local freshet conditions, and ensure they have considered plans for moving valuable items, livestock or other items to safe locations if required,” the RDKB said in a release Thursday.

Read more: Two more Johnson Flats properties given evacuation alerts

Read more: Six homes ordered to evacuate early Tuesday morning in Grand Forks due to flooding


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Jensen.edwards@grandforksgazette.ca

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