Residents of Wardle Street watched Wednesday afternoon as the river’s edge crept over the bank, across the road and toward their homes.
The street, which sits at the mouth of where the Coquihalla River runs into the Fraser, was dry at about noon, one passerby said. But by 2 p.m., the farthest end of the road was completely under water, and District of Hope crews were busy setting up fencing to stop traffic flow.
Many of the longtime residents said they weren’t too concerned about the flooding, as they’ve built their homes high above the level of the street. Other residents were busy moving equipment and items to higher ground.
But Wardle Street is one of the area’s of concern pointed out by Hope’s Fire Chief Tom DeSorcy in an interview with the Observer on Wednesday morning.
“This is being treated seriously,” he said. “We’re expecting high water that we probably haven’t seen for 40 years. Numbers equating back to 1972.”
During that year’s spring freshet, he said, there were roads that were covered but that no huge devastation was seen in the neighbourhoods.
“But we treat emergency management a lot different today,” he explained, and the District operates under theory that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
The Emergency Operations Centre was set up on Tuesday, in the District’s council chambers. And an emergency reception centre was being set up on Wednesday to deal with possible evacuees later in the week. The bulk of the water seen earlier this week in Prince George is expected to make its way to Hope sometime on Friday (today) or Saturday.
The areas of concern include Wardle Street, Water Avenue, Tom Berry Road, Haig Station Road, Landstrom Road and Bristol Island Road.
DeSorcy is asking people to stay far away from the river’s edge as it continues to rise.
On Wednesday, he was preparing to put some residents on an evacuation alert.
“Alerts are warning people that the event exists, that there is a threat,” he said. “It’s putting them on notice to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. If that alert changes to an order, the next person knocking on the door will be asking you to leave.”
If that were to happen, the evacuation order would instruct homeowners on how to leave the property safely, with reminders to turn off gas or other services. It would also include information about the emergency reception area.
Just down the Fraser River, in the District of Kent, officials handed out evacuation notices on Tuesday night. They handed out the notices to the handful of residents living outside the dike system.
Kent officials began daily patrols of the river earlier this week, and plan to keep that up for the next two weeks.
They warned on Wednesday that residents inside the dike system could also experience some issues.
“Impacts to properties located inside the District’s dike system are expected to be limited to additional seepage,” the District wrote in a press release.
If you do not already have an emergency plan in place for your household, now is an excellent time to create one.
More information on emergency planning can be found at www.pep.bc.ca.
For up-to-date river information, visit us online at www.ahobserver.com.