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Nooksack River overflow expected to cross into Abbotsford Sunday as more rain forecasted

100 millimetres of rain dumped on the region raised water levels at bottom of Sumas Lake by 3 inches
Rail lines running parallel to the U.S. border are sandbagged in Abbotsford. Andy Holota / Black Press Media photo.

Floodwaters have overtopped the Nooksack River south of the border and are expected to flow into Abbotsford’s Sumas Prairie later on Sunday, Mayor Henry Braun said at an afternoon press conference.

Braun said that while the weather over the weekend has not been as intense as the rain that flooded Sumas Prairie two weeks ago, the ground is far too saturated.

He said it’s travelling “like a surfer” over the soaked surface, and will arrive much faster than the previous flood event.

“In the last half-hour things have changed, we can expect that water here sometime today,” Braun said of his discussions with U.S. officials, adding that although the dikes have been repaired, flooding is still expected.

“Sandbag walls are not going to stop the Nooksack (River),” the mayor added, noting that there were no preparations in the last week that can stop the powerful U.S. waterway.”

Rain this weekend has not helped, Braun said, adding that the 100 millimetres of rain dumped on the region and raised water levels at the bottom of the Sumas Lake by three inches.

The floodwater is a combination of rainwater and snowmelt, with the strong winds pushing it towards Abbotsford, Braun said.

Abbotsford’s flood conditions are currently stable, the Barrowtown Pump Station is fully operational and all temporary dyke repairs are complete between No. 4 and Marion roads, and Atkinson and Cole roads, Braun said.

With the help of the Canadian Armed Forces, an additional half metre in height has been added along a six-kilometre stretch of the dike protecting Barrowtown Pump Station from the southwest, Braun said.

“We have to keep our fingers crossed and hope the Sumas River dikes will hold,” he said, but reassured residents that he was “confident that we have done what we can do and we are as ready as we can be for the event that is about to unfold.”

He said the concern is now whether any unseen damage to the integrity of the Sumas Dike has occurred.

To people under the new evacuation order issued for Huntington Village, Braun urged them to evacuate, saying that the area might look “quite different” by Monday.

The floodwater is currently pooling between the Nooksack River and Everson, Braun said.

He has previously compared it to water overflowing an ice-cube tray, and said that once the pooling fills this area, it will head over Main Street and into Abbotsford.

“And then it’s headed here, there’s nothing to stop it.”

A monitoring system along Main Street will notify city officials as the situation changes.

City of Abbotsford officials have confirmed that they were forced to close the Barrowtown Pump Station floodgates at 2 p.m. The Fraser River is currently at 4.76 metres, while the Sumas River is at 4.69 metres.

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