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Rain swamps northern B.C.


Highway 97S south of Chetwynd submerged by high water (Photo courtesy Transportation BC)
Highway 97S south of Chetwynd submerged by high water (Photo courtesy Transportation BC)

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

June 26, 2011 — Heavy rains have washed out roads and put communities on flood alert across northern British Columbia.

Floodwaters left a trail of debris around a business in Chetwynd
Floodwaters left a trail of debris around a business in Chetwynd

A stationary trough that has been dumping heavy rain on northern British Columbia since Friday finally began to dissipate Sunday, but some communities are now facing a substantial cleanup effort.

The Peace Region was particularly hard hit. Fort St. John reported 117 mm of rain in just two days, while Dawson Creek saw 81 mm.

Crews are assessing the damage on Highway 97S near Mount Lemoray, south of Chetwynd. The highway was closed Saturday after the Fisher Creek bridge gave way. Photos show the highway completely submerged by a river of brown water littered with debris.

The situation isn't much better in Chetwynd itself. Local media reported residents were frantically sandbagging to protect as many buildings as possible as torrents of water rushed through the downtown core Saturday.

The flooding opened up sinkholes in roads and sidewalks around town and a nearby campground had to be evacuated Friday night due to high water levels.

It was too late to save this car in Dawson Creek
It was too late to save this car in Dawson Creek

On Saturday, the B.C. River Forecast Centre issued flood warnings for the Peace Region and tributaries of Williston Lake.

At one point Saturday afternoon the Moberly River was rising 2.5 cm an hour -- a one-in-20-year flow level -- while Carbon Creek, west of Hudson's Hope, reached its highest level in 12 years of monitoring.

The good news is the worst of the rain is now over. Some showers are possible throughout the week, according to Weather Network meteorologist Dayna Vettese, but nothing like what the region saw over the weekend.

Parts of B.C. have been dealing with a prolonged flooding season, largely due to a dense snowpack and an unseasonably cool spring.

With files from energeticcity.ca

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