GRAND FORKS, B.C. — The first wave of 300 Canadian military personnel is being sent to British Columbia to help communities overwhelmed by floodwaters as parts of the province are expected to be hit with heavy rain following snowmelt from unseasonably warm weather.
The Canadian Armed Forces said staff from Joint Task Force Pacific and personnel from the 3rd Canadian Division based in Edmonton were to establish themselves in Vernon on Thursday before being deployed to areas affected by flooding including Grand Forks.
Officials in the southern Interior city say thunderstorms are expected to bring a second round of high water.
Chris Marsh of the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said while water levels in the Granby, Kettle, and West Kettle rivers ebbed since a flood last week, the Kettle River rose 20 to 22 centimetres on Thursday and all three were dangerously high.
“They remain very, very high and of course the threat is that they’ll continue to rise until Saturday,” Marsh said.
Across the province, about 4,500 people have been forced out of their homes while 7,000 residents have been placed on evacuation alert as the threat of flooding rises, said Chris Duffy, executive director of Emergency Management BC.
Weather will continue to be a big factor into next week, said David Campbell, head of the province’s River Forecast Centre.
“The prolonged nature and the severity of the temperatures that we’ve seen is unprecedented for this time of year and that’s leading to flows that we have not seen in many decades,” he said, adding weather in the southern parts of the province is the main concern in the short term.
Rain expected Thursday night and into Friday will push the risk of extreme flooding through the Similkameen, Okanagan, Shuswap and Boundary regions, he said.