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CURRENT FLOOD INFO

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June 18, 2007

  • Message to residents:

    PUBLIC ANNOUNCEMENT THE FLOOD THREAT IS OVER

    AFTER ALL THE PREPARATION, PLANNING AND PRECAUTIONS THE PROVINCIAL RIVER FORECAST CENTRE AND MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT ANNOUNCED MONDAY THAT THE FLOOD THREAT OF 2007 IS OFFICIALLY OVER FOR THE UPPER AND LOWER FRASER VALLEY BETWEEN HOPE AND RICHMOND.

    ON MONDAY JUNE 11 THEY ANNOUNCED THAT AFTER THE WEEKEND AND PREVIOUS WEEKS WEATHER PATTERNS, THERE WAS NOT ENOUGH SNOW LEFT IN THE HIGH COUNTRY TO CREATE A POTENTIAL FOR A FLOOD OF THE MAGNITUDE WE WERE EXPECTING OR HOPING WOULD NOT HAPPEN.  FLOWS TO THAT POINT HAD SUFFICIENTLY REDUCED THE VOLUME SO THAT REMAINING MELTING WOULD NOT CREATE A FLOOD THREAT.

    THE KENT/HARRISON JOINT EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTRE IS NOW CLOSED.  THE ‘HOT LINE’ WILL REMAIN OPEN UNTIL THE END OF THE MONTH FOR MESSAGES AND COMMENTS AS THE HIGH WATER WILL STILL CREATE SOME SEEPAGE AND POTENTIAL FOR HIGH WATER TABLES INSIDE THE DYKE FOR ABOUT ANOTHER 3 WEEKS OR SO.  SO PLEASE BE VIGILENT AND LET US KNOW IF YOU SEE ANYTHING THAT MAY REQUIRE OUR ATTENTION.

    THE KENT/HARRISON JOINT EMERGENCY OPERATIONS CENTRE DISTRIBUTED APPROXIMATELY 20 “FLOOD ALERT” NOTICES TO PROPERTIES OUTSIDE THE DYKE AND SOME 96 “INFORMATION NOTICES” TO ROCKWELL RESIDENTS AS PRECAUTIONARY INFORMATION TO MAKE SURE THAT ALL WERE PREPARED IN CASE MORE DRASTIC MEASURES MIGHT NEED TO BE TAKEN.

    THESE NOTICES ARE NOW OFFICIALLY RESCINDED  AND WE CAN ALL BREATHE A COLLECTIVE SIGH OF RELIEF AND HOPEFULLY RETURN TO OUR DIALY ROUTINES.

    THERE IS STILL THE POTENTIAL FOR HIGH WATER INCIDENTS IF A MAJOR STORM WERE TO STRIKE THE UPPER FRASER BASIN BUT ALL MEASURES TAKEN SO FAR ARE SUFFICIENTLY IN PLACE TO MITIGATE ANY PROBLEMS WE MIGHT SEE IF THIS WERE TO HAPPEN.

    THE K/H EOC AND STAFF WISH TO EXPRESS OUR SINCERE APPRECIATION TO ALL VOLUNTEERS AND ORGANIZERS, ALL PERSONS INVOLVED EITHER DIRECTLY OR INDIRECTLY, WITH THE PLANNING, ORGANIZING AND PREPARATIONS FOR THIS POTENTIAL EVENT.  WE ARE SINCERELY PROUD OF THE RESIDENTS OF KENT/HARRISON FOR THEIR INTEREST, SENSE OF PREPAREDNESS AND CONCERNS IN THE FACE OF SUCH A POTENTIAL DISASTER.

    THERE MAY BE MANY SUGGESTING; ‘TOO MUCH’, ‘TOO FAST’, ‘TOO OVERBOARD’ ETC., BUT FOR US IN THE EOC, THIS EXPERIENCE AND PROCESS PROVES WE HAVE A GREAT MANY PEOPLE WHO ARE COMMITTED TO KEEPING THIS COMMUNITY SAFE, PREPARED AND TOGETHER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.

    REST ASSURED THAT IF ANY FUTURE THREAT COMES FORTH BOTH OUR COMMUNITIES CAN BE VERY COMFORTABLE IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT WE ARE READY, WILLING AND ABLE TO COPE.

CHOOSE FROM THE FOLLOWING:


FRASER RIVER WATER LEVELS

    River Gauge Videos:
  Click on one of the files on the right!

McDonald Road Gauge.wmv ( June 9, 1.9mb, 16:9 Windows Media Video 9 format )
Bridge Road Gauge.wmv ( June 10, 2.9mb, 16:9 Windows Media Video 9 format )
Hamilton Road Gauge.wmv ( June 10, 2.3mb, 16:9 Windows Media Video 9 format )
Scowlitz I.R. Gauge.wmv ( June 10, 1.3mb, 16:9 Windows Media Video 9 format )

    Other Videos: June 10, 2007
  Click on one of the files on the right!

Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge ( 2.2mb, 16:9 Windows Media Video 9 format )
Kilby Campground & Boat Launch ( 2.4mb, 16:9 Windows Media Video 9 format )
Kilby Campground & Boat Launch ( 2.3mb, 16:9 Windows Media Video 9 format )
CPR Bridge in Harrison Mills ( 2.4mb, 16:9 Windows Media Video 9 format )

Kilby Historic Site is NOT affected by the rise in the Harrison River water level and they are open for business.

(Note: high speed internet connection is recommended for viewing these files)

The Yellow number next to the "Water Level" label indicates the water level height on the day shown. There are 3 gauges that are shown in the image above. These gauges represent the area along Fraser River stretching from Harrison Mills to Seabird Island (left to right respectively).

The water levels on the left of the chart start at 8m and go up in 2m increments up to 24m. The vertical scale is exaggerated 200 times. Dyke elevations at the three gauges are shown in brown. The amount of "freeboard" is determined by subtracting the water level from the dyke elevation. Ex. At Dyke 'D': 13.75m (top of dyke) - 11.47m (water level) = 2.28m (freeboard). This means that the water level would have to rise an additional 2.28m before it would reach the top of the dyke.

The distance between Dyke D and Dyke C river gauge stations is 6.5km.
The distance between Dyke C and Dyke A river gauge stations is 8.7km.

If you need an additional explanation, please call Martin Sladek at 604-796-2235.

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EVACUATION PRE-REGISTRATION FORM

Please DOWNLOAD the form, fill it out, and return it to us either by dropping it off at the District Hall, faxing it (our fax number is 604-796-9854), or email it to info@district.kent.bc.ca

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Links to useful sites:

GetPrepared - easy to use and understand information about flood preparedness for your family
Harrison Hot Springs Village
Provincial Emergency Program (PEP)
River Water Levels Advisory
BC Environment River Forecast Centre
Fraser Health- Public Health information sheets related to flooding
Ministry of Transportation Disaster Response Routes - watch a video

Documents of Interest

What to do after a flood with private drinking water/wells!
Disinfecting wells after a flood
What to do with private sewage systems during and after a flood
List of Labs to use for testing water
Flood information for homeowners

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   2007 FLOOD PREPARATIONS
DISTRICT OF KENT – VILLAGE OF HARRISON HOT SPRINGS
April 19, 2007

The purpose of this message is to provide some basic facts on the status of this year's freshet on the Fraser and Nooksack River systems.

It is also to strongly encourage all residents to make personal preparations at home in the event that there is a flood this spring.  The residents of the District of Kent and Village of Harrison Hot Springs will be counting on all staff of these two municipalities, plus our volunteer services including Kent Harrison Search and Rescue, Community Services Groups and Kent, Harrison and Seabird Fire Departments as well as our local RCMP members to assist them should any flooding occur.

In order to accomplish this, we all need to ensure that we have prepared our homes and families as best we can. All residents are asked to take a few minutes and carefully read this message.

Current Situation

This past winter the entire province experienced higher than normal precipitation in the form of both rain and snow.  Snow pack levels in every area of the province except the Okanagan are at or near record levels.

Coupled with the snow levels is the water content of the snow packs which are very high.  As a result, when the spring run off occurs, there will be much more water entering the creeks and tributaries that feed the Fraser River watershed.

What is a freshet?

The word freshet is simply the term used to describe the annual spring melt of alpine and sub-alpine snow packs into creeks, streams and river systems. It occurs every year, but to varying levels.  The freshet for the Fraser River in the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley generally occurs between May and early July, depending on the weather.  In a normal year, the dyking systems that have been put in place can withstand the pressure of the river and there is little flooding.

Threat Assessment

Many of you will have seen or read media reports about the snow pack levels and threat of flooding.  The news reports have not been exaggerated but considering the limited information associated with these announcements a true sense of urgency is required.  The threat is real, more so in some areas than others.  This message is meant to begin the process of providing information which we hope will provide individuals with enough detail to make their own preparations.

As of April 5 the snow pack levels in the Fraser Basin and the other systems that feed the Fraser (the Nechako water shed, the Thomson River watershed and the Harrison Lake system) were all well above average (125 - 140%). The snow level and water content level is now reported to be either the highest or second highest on record (records kept since 1953).  This will be as a result of the extreme amount of alpine snow that the province received throughout the winter and especially in March.

The risk of flooding is as great as it was in 1948 and the highest in thirty years.  The 1948 flood resulted in a substantial portion of the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley being flooded.  However the risk this year is somewhat mitigated by dykes that are substantially better than in 1948.

The water flow in 2007 is expected to be higher than in 1999, the last time we had a risk of flooding in this area.  The River Forecast Centre (RFC) is predicting water to flow over the traditional banks of the Fraser (not over the dykes) at some point in May and further, to extend up onto the banks of the dykes well into late June or early July.

The increased and prolonged exposure of the dykes to this level of water pressure increases the possibility of the dykes being compromised, either through dyke failure (breach), seepage or from boils.

Boils occur when water from the river pushes through underground weaknesses, strata layers of porous material, tree root paths, beaver and muskrat dens, bird nesting holes etc. and could rise above existing ground levels inside the dykes even up to several kilometers from the river. These are especially the conditions that we will be watching for in the District as most dykes, not including Harrison Mills, are felt to be sufficiently adequate in height to withstand the predicted flows of as far back as the 1894 flood.

This doesn't mean that if spikes in weather or storms occur during the high water flows we won't have the potential for higher river levels.  It’s just that as far as the predictions and data we have now, our dykes here in Kent at least, are in reasonably decent shape including adequate elevation.

Recent intensive inspections by staff have determined areas where work was required which has already been completed, to reinforce or raise suspect areas.  Otherwise we are extremely confident we are ready.  Once specific warnings are published by the RFC regular and even hourly dyke patrols will be implemented through our Emergency Operations Centre (EOC); more on this later.

Factors Affecting Water Levels

The largest factor affecting the rate of melt is the weather. Any period of prolonged warm days (five days or longer), especially in the interior or very wet weather in May or June coupled with the warm weather, will rapidly increase the “threat level”.  A cool, dry spring on the other hand will greatly reduce the risk.

The second factor that affects the water level is the tide.  The Fraser River is subject to tide levels as far east as Chilliwack.  High tide during the freshet will occur every night between midnight at early morning.  Tidal conditions are not expected to affect the rivers in our area.

Locations of Potential Flooding

Officials from the Provincial Emergency Program (PEP) advised that the risk of flooding is high in most areas of the province.  For those not living in the Kent Harrison area who have families or friends etc. living here, they can check the local and Provincial websites for local conditions.

In Kent, the highest concern for overtopping of dykes is in the Harrison Mills area.  The Province provided close to $500,000 in order to raise these dykes and our crews and contractors are working at raising these dykes to levels appropriate to the most recent forecasts.

In Harrison, the Province provided $75,000 for upgrades to the dyke principally the area in front of the Harrison Resort where high water and winds had eroded the shore last spring.

All work is expected to be complete by May 15th and we feel that this, although limited in scope will provide as much protection to this area as we feel is immediately possible considering the time frames and construction abilities.  Despite this work we will be treating Harrison Mills as a priority for increased monitoring and more frequent inspections throughout the freshet.

East of Mt. Woodside is protected by the south dyke system.  As noted above all the information we have to date including ground elevation checks and aerial reconnaissance, studies, inspections etc. indicate that these dykes are high enough to withstand water levels equivalent to the levels depicted in the 1894 flood of record.

Also and again as noted above, this depends on flow levels in the river acting as predicted and does not account for the potential for major storms, extra high temperature spikes and weather patterns more severe than predicted.  We may encounter higher levels which in turn may cause overtopping in some areas.  This is where the weather and flow prediction capabilities we have today will provide us with, hopefully, enough warning to prepare for expected problems in those areas.

Maps will be available on the Kent website shortly which will show areas of the Townsite of Harrison and Agassiz as well as the rural areas which may experience flooding should a major dyke breach occur.

Also, the higher water levels may have an effect on our existing dykes which we have not had the opportunity to see since they were constructed.  Even in 1999 areas of these dykes did not have levels of the river approaching their tops.  The reaction of these dykes under stress conditions is limited so we will be focusing on continuous inspections and monitoring to ensure adequate response and resource implementation is provided where necessary.
The Village of Harrison Hot Springs may be affected by a sudden increase in the lake level.  The lake will react to runoff predominantly as a response to the Lillooet and Breackenridge drainage watershed.  Weather patterns in this part of the Province are different than in the Fraser and Nechako watersheds plus will show a faster reaction in lake levels than what may happen up the Fraser watershed.  Therefore a slightly more intense watch and timeline is being considered for residents of the Village in watching the lake levels and weather pattern reactions.

The area that may be treated as the highest priority for evacuation is all along Rockwell Drive beyond the marinas.  Rising lake levels have been known to block sections of Rockwell Drive and for this reason residents in this area should be most prepared to either leave or be isolated for a longer period of time.  

Adequate food, drinking water, alternative power and sewage disposal are what you should consider if planning to stay and wait out any event which may cause the road to be closed.

Evacuation notices and procedures to be employed by the EOC will be provided complete with legal and lawful authority to order or physically move residents should the need arise.  The information we can provide in this regard will be most critical to the residents of Rockwell Drive.

Owners of low lying properties next to the lake should be taking precautions now since rising lake levels are inevitable.  Historic levels should be used to determine your predicaments and mitigative measures.

Warning Systems

The level of the Fraser River is measured at a number of stations, including the Mission Gauge, which is located on the north side of the Mission Bridge. This gauge is monitored electronically by the Province and is available in near real time on the internet.  

As the time for the freshet approaches, the RFC will have a constant watch on the Fraser and the systems that flow into it.  The Kent/Harrison EOC will be monitoring at least 14 gauges along the Fraser and 3 along the Harrison River beginning as early as the first of May.

Weather forecasts will also be closely monitored in order to anticipate the start of the freshet and flow affects following the start of the freshet.  There are pre-established, set thresholds for increasing alert status throughout the freshet both on the river and weather watches which are required by PEP and the Provincial Authorities.

The RFC bases measurements taken at two hundred locations throughout the province. It will provide a clearer picture of what municipalities may face as early as mid-May.

What is being done to prepare for the freshet?

Coordination for the freshet is being carried out Provincially, by region and by individual municipalities.

The Province has a number of flood management experts and scientists working full time on the freshet and prediction elements.  The Province is in the initial stages of setting up the Provincial Regional Emergency Operations Centre (PREOC).  Resources are being coordinated in the event of wide spread flooding throughout the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley.

The Kent Harrison EOC has prepared a Flood Response Plan.  Locally, Phase One of the Flood Response Plan has been put in place.  This involves “preparedness” and managers, supervisors, local Fire Departments, Search and Rescue and local RCMP and other partners are meeting regularly to ensure that everyone is prepared and plans are in place to deal with a potential for flooding or any other associated event.

If a breach occurs, all staff will be called on to participate in one way or another to assist in the response.  We will need every bit of the dedication that we have experienced so far from staff and volunteers to deal with any major event.

Depending on the level of flooding, we are not expected to handle the burden entirely on our own and will be able to call for outside assistance as required.

What do individuals have to prepare for?

It is prudent for all of us to prepare our own homes, families and property for the event of a flood or other major disaster.  This is mandated by the Provincial PEP and other response oriented services.

We are all responsible for our own situations.  Even those of us who live outside of the flood plain need to be prepared to live without power or running water for at least 72 hours, up to a week or even as long as a month depending on the severity of the flooding.

In the event that there is wide spread flooding, we have been advised by BC Hydro that they will likely be shutting down various power grids to reduce damage to their systems.  Should that occur, reactivation of power would be carried out on a priority basis, with critical infrastructure as the first to get power back.  

Terasen Gas may be forced to shut down service especially if their grid system in jeopardized by washouts or structural failures in their systems and supply. 

The District and Village are preparing plans to shut down, water supply and sanitary sewer systems should the need arise.  Further details will be available as plans and information is presented.

Over the next few weeks we will be forwarding tips and information through the mail and on the internet.  Information includes tips for emergency preparedness and how various parts of the local infrastructure will react at various levels.  Now is the time to get yourself and your family prepared.

Conclusion

In closing, we stress that the risk of flooding is real and should be heeded.  

All residents must be self reliant, "we have to prepare ourselves and the better prepared we are as individuals, the better we will be able to deal with this as a community".

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