Nelson area ‘not out of this yet’

Relentless rains cause problems within city limits and in the regional district and despite partial relief Thursday

Heavy rainfall kept city and regional district crews on their soggy toes Wednesday.

The BC River Forecast Centre put the West an East Kootenays on flood watch Wednesday, elevating the high streamflow notice it issued two days earlier.

That prompted the Regional District of Central Kootenay’s Emergency Operations Centre to operate at Level 3 status, which it will likely maintain throughout the weekend.

“We’re monitoring all major waterbodies in the region,” said Bill Macpherson, EOC spokesperson. “We’re not out of this yet.”

Sun broke through the clouds Thursday morning, but more rain was expected Thursday evening through to Sunday.

The only major evacuation needed Wednesday was in Crawford Bay when a dyke failed just south of the village centre. Sixteen homes and businesses were affected.

There were also some significant road closures. The Salmo-Creston pass was closed Wednesday from about 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. when 30 cm of snow fell in less than six hours. That caused two-sailing waits at the Kootenay Lake ferry.

Highway 3A was washed out and closed near Grey Creek, and there was worry Slocan Valley West Road would be cut off by rising water.

Macpherson expects more emergencies around the Salmo and Slocan rivers if heavy rains continue.

“Historically those are the rivers that are known to flood,” he said, noting that people should be ready to evacuate those areas.

In Nelson, there were some flooded basements on Wednesday. According to Nelson director of engineering Allen Fillion, crews assisted with pumping water out of the basements of two homes.

Much of their day was spent monitoring culverts and ensuring storm drains weren’t blocked by debris.

The volume of water was too much for the city’s treatment plant to handle, and some of the storm water had to be released into the Kootenay River untreated.

“We were seeing about double the normal level of water coming into the treatment plant,” Fillion said.

Nelson crews also kept an eye on Anderson, Hume, Ward and Cottonwood creeks, which Fillion said were extremely close to flooding.

Sports fields were closed and the dog walk area my also be blocked off due to water levels.

Residents in both Nelson and the RDCK are responsible for protecting their own property from water damage. Sandbags can be picked up from outside the entrance of local fire halls.

“Our main concern is keeping people safe,” said Macpherson, noting people should avoid going near streams and channels during or after heavy rain.

If you notice signs of river flooding, call the Provincial Emergency Program 24-hour response line at 1-800-663-3456.

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