Joe Oranchuk, a resident of Heimlich Road, stands in a puddle that was once a field, Thursday afternoon. Residents along the road are experiencing flooding. - Credit: Carli Berry/Capital News

Officials warn B.C. flooding may be worse due to 2017 wildfires

Flood warnings have already been posted by the Cariboo Regional District

Emergency officials in British Columbia’s southern Interior warn that devastating wildfires that charred thousands of square kilometres of timber and bush last year now have the potential to make seasonal flooding even more severe.

The warning from the Cariboo Regional District comes as about 120 properties were ordered to evacuate Sunday in the Upper Nazko region about 100 kilometres west of Quesnel.

Flood warnings have been posted for the Nazko and West Road rivers in the region and Emily Epp, the regional district’s emergency operations centre spokeswoman, said surging water had already cut some roads and trapped residents on their land.

“The RCMP is helping them evacuate by helicopter and then we are transporting them by bus to emergency support services reception centre in Quesnel,” Epp said early Monday.

Flood watches were also posted by the River Forecast Centre for many other waterways around the Cache Creek, Merritt, Williams Lake and Quesnel areas, and Epp said the 2018 spring thaw was shaping up to be challenging.

“We are definitely seeing much more significant flooding than we usually do in our regional district and the experts at the River Forecast Centre and Ministry of Environment are advising us that a lot of this is due to the impact from the wildfires last year,” she said.

More than 12,000 square kilometres of timber and bush burned across B.C. between July and September 2017, with the largest wildfire ever recorded in the province, called the Plateau fire, destroying a massive area west of Quesnel and Williams Lake.

The Nazko watershed, where the current flooding is occurring, was significantly impacted by that blaze, Epp said.

“The experts are telling us that with the devastation to the landscape, the water and snowmelt is able to flow much more accessibly into the rivers and streams and so causes these high stream flow and potential flooding issues,” she said.

In southern B.C., evacuation orders remain in effect for 148 properties in the Okanagan-Similkameen Regional District community of Tulameen, while the rest of the town is on evacuation alert.

Evacuation orders had also been posted for the Sportsman Bowl area north of Oliver and a mudslide forced the evacuation of properties in the Killiney Beach area on the northwest side of Okanagan Lake.

Rapidly rising river levels and the likelihood of flooding in low-lying areas for the southern Interior, Boundary, Kootenay and Peace regions prompted the River Forecast Centre to maintain high streamflow advisories there.

Recent rains, extremely heavy snowpacks and another round of temperatures in the mid to high 20s for many parts of southern B.C. are expected to add to flooding risks in the coming days.

The Provincial Emergency Co-ordination Centre advises people to stay away from eroded banks and keep children and pets away from stream banks, which could be unstable.

The centre also says to pay attention to changing conditions, especially in low-lying areas and it has listed steps to take in case flooding occurs, including creating a household emergency plan and moving valuables and equipment to higher ground.

The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Three-for-one at Parksville studio for tour

Local artists participating in Central Island Studio Tour May 26-27

Pole dancers bring disco theme for second Errington hall event

Island Talent Pole Fitness show to include national champs on June 2

Qualicum Beach east village plans take shape

Staff moving forward with east village concept

Annual pickleball tournament fills up quickly

Two-day event to take place indoors at Oceanside Place May 24-25

Lighthouse Country bus tour to focus on area’s tourism destinations

Business assocation wants more tourists to come to the area

VIDEO: Sharks’ jaws too sharp for Whalers

First junior B lacrosse team delights local fans with 13-3 win

Man dead after crashing vehicle into hydro pole and tree in Gibsons

Dog also hurt in collision, which happened Wednesday morning

Study recommends jurors receive more financial and psychological support

Federal justice committee calls for 11 policy changes to mitigate juror stress

Research needed on impact of microplastics on B.C. shellfish industry: study

SFU’s department of biological sciences recommends deeper look into shellfish ingesting microbeads

B.C. dad pens letter urging overhaul of youth health laws after son’s fatal overdose

The Infants Act currently states children under 19 years old may consent to medical treatment on own

Singh sides with B.C. in hornet’s nest of pipeline politics for the NDP

Singh had called for a more thorough environmental review process on the proposal

VIDEO: B.C. woman gets up-close view of Royal wedding

Kelly Samra won a trip back to her home country to see Prince Harry and Meghan Markle say ‘I do’

Construction crane tips over at Nanaimo work site

Incident happened Wednesday morning at Turner Road and Uplands Drive

30 C in B.C., 30 cm of snow expected for eastern Canada

It might be hot in B.C., but the rest of Canada still dealing with cold

Most Read