B.C. flood recovery efforts begin as evacuation orders lift in Grand Forks

GRAND FORKS, B.C.—Emergency personnel in Grand Forks, B.C., say the recovery process has begun in the community of 4,000, which was hardest hit by this year’s flooding.

Evacuation orders have been lifted for all but 12 properties in the community.

Chris Marsh, director of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary’s emergency operations centre, says those properties are concentrated along riverbanks where slope instability remains a threat.

On Saturday, the regional district is opening a centre to help all victims of the floods.

The centre will bring 20 different agencies together under one roof to answer questions and provide assistance on everything from psychological- and social-support services to waste disposal.

He says evacuees have returned home with a mix of loss, desolation and relief.

“We see the full gamut of emotions here at the emergency operations centre. I mean some people definitely are devastated by this, they’ve lost everything, they’ve lost their livelihood, they have concerns about their employment and how they’re going to make it through,” Marsh said.

“There’s also the people who are grateful that they got through this flood with themselves and their pets and everybody is safe and healthy and there is a sense of optimism that they’ll be able to rebuild.”

Officials are working on a formal recovery plan and will also review the flood response to glean lessons about best practices for future emergencies, he said.

“This is a really resilient and independent community and I have no doubt that the community will come together and help everybody as much as they can.”

In the Fraser Valley, about two dozen properties remain under evacuation orders, due to sustained high water on the Fraser River, although the river never reached projected highs over six metres at the Mission gauge.

Jennifer Kinneman, manager of corporate affairs for the regional district, said that while a typical flood season would see more highs and lows, the river has remained at a high level for almost four weeks.

“Many of these areas that are under alerts and orders are still experiencing quite a bit of water and some are experiencing seepage into their homes,” Kinneman said.

“So until we get past the point where the river’s peaked and we feel that people can return safely, we can’t rescind those alerts or orders. We’re hopeful over the next week that things will improve enough that we can do so.”

TORONTO STAR

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