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Flood evacuation warning for Washington towns rescinded


The city of Sumas posted a message by Mayor John Perry to its Facebook page early Wednesday morning, effectively rescinding an evacuation warning for his own municipality, which also had residents of nearby Nooksack and Everson fleeing.

The evacuation warning was the result of reports on what was going on over the border in Abbotsford, where a pumping station and a dam were reported to be in trouble.

“Multiple agencies have looked at the situation in Abbotsford and run analysis of potential impacts and here is the analysis: The West Sumas Prairie (where the overflow at the border goes to) is gravity-drained by the Sumas River and that is what is helping to lower the water levels in Sumas and Abbottsford,” Perry wrote. “If the dam fails, the East Sumas Prairie which is the old Sumas Lake will fill up until it gets to the level of the dike along the Vedder Canal which is 11 m and then will spill over a long section of dike back to the Fraser [River], likely not allowing the water level to get much higher (and the Fraser is receding).”

From these reports, Perry extrapolated, “It looks like most of town would not be impacted, just the northeast fringes. And it will take a while (days) for the Fraser to fill in all this storage so Sumas would have time to evacuate if the dam does fail.”

Perry added: “No impacts would be possible to Everson and Nooksack and any felt in Sumas would be minor compared to what we all just got over the past 24 hours. There is no need for evacuations at this point and [there] will be plenty of warning if it is needed in the upcoming days.”

The flood warnings came after several days of heavy rains led to rising waters, road closures, washouts and property damage in Whatcom and Skagit counties in Washington and in much of British Columbia’s Lower Mainland.

The Washington Department of Transportation has been struggling to clear county and highway roads. Churches and other charities have taken in displaced people, and volunteers with boats and high suspension trucks have been busy rescuing stranded people.

Sandbagging crews in Canada appear to have shored up the Barrowtown Pump Station to “buy us some time,” Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said Wednesday morning during a news conference.

Braun said the station is capable of processing “half a million gallons per minute” to stave off flooding. He reported much of the water is coming from overflow from the Nooksack River in Whatcom County and said the facility was “never intended or designed to take on water from another country.”

Wednesday’s weather is frosty rather than rainy, giving the local river systems more time to process water down from the mountains and out to the ocean before the next downpour.

This article was originally posted on Flood evacuation warning for Washington towns rescinded

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