DUNCAN, B.C. — Flooding caused by heavy rain and high tides forced the evacuation of 300 homes in the southern Vancouver Island city of Duncan and surrounding areas on Friday.
Public information officer Mark Ruttan of the municipality of North Cowichan said two schools were also closed for the day and a number of roads closed after local rivers broke their banks in low-lying areas.
“We’ve declared a local state of emergency for part of North Cowichan and for the city of Duncan and part of the Cowichan tribes’ land as well,” he said.
The problem began building over the last couple of days due to heavy rain but reached a crisis overnight.
The high tides made it difficult for the swollen Cowichan and Kokslah rivers to discharge their water into the sea, said Ruttan.
“It’s been building for the last couple of days but very early this morning we knew there was trouble,” he said.
Water poured into a number of homes and flooded yards, said Ruttan, adding some adjacent neighbourhoods were also put on evacuation alert.
An evacuation centre was opened at a local community centre.
Water levels were dropping by mid-afternoon Friday but Ruttan said officials are worried they could rise again with more rain in the forecast.
“We are concerned,” he said. “We have been doing lots of sandbagging but we’re not sure what it’ll look like tomorrow.”
The municipality has a population of more than 27,000.