Catastrophic flood warning issued for B.C.’s Sumas Prairie next to Washington border

ABBOTSFORD, B.C. — The city of Abbotsford, British Columbia, issued an urgent warning Tuesday night that catastrophic flooding is expected for the Sumas Prairie.

The city said there’s a significant risk to life.

The evacuation area in British Columbia butts up to the U.S. border along Boundary Road and the city of Sumas, Washington, which has essentially been cut off from much of Whatcom County because of flooded roads.

Abbotsford officials said the imminent failure of a pump station would allow even more water from the Fraser River into the area. The pump station is already operating at its full capacity.

City officials said on Wednesday that another issue is that water from Washington’s Nooksack River has been pouring into Abbotsford for three days.

Most of Sumas Prairie is farmland. It was already under an evacuation order because of flooding. Abbotsford’s mayor on Tuesday night made a plea to farmers who stayed back to leave and not stay behind to protect livestock.

According to the Vancouver Sun, “Fraser Valley farmers supply 50 per cent of all B.C.’s eggs, chickens and dairy products. There are 45,000 dairy cows in the valley, and each chicken farm has around 25,000 birds.”

Officials said on Wednesday there were about 80 people waiting to be helped out of the flooded area.

The situation has caused concern for some living in Sumas.

Sumas officials issued a statement Tuesday night:

“We have an important announcement about the Abbotsford evacuation.

“We will be monitoring the flow from Canada on a regular basis throughout the evening. If we notice a significant change in the water levels that requires immediate action, we will send out an emergency notification to your cell phones. As a precaution, please have a grab bag ready just in case. If you have the ability and desire to safely leave your homes as a precaution, now would be a good time to do that. Please do so in a slow and safe manner. We are not expecting anything to change significantly in the next few hours. I am literally watching the water right now.

“We will provide updates if anything changes.”

Meanwhile, the flooding in British Columbia has led to a death.

Search and rescue crews recovered a woman’s body from a mudslide a few hours north of Vancouver Tuesday.

Since Monday, military helicopters have rescued around 300 people trapped in their cars by landslides.

Authorities in the city of Merritt ordered all 8,000 people who live there to leave after rising waters cut off bridges and forced the wastewater treatment plant to shut down.