The latest on flooding and mudslides in the Fraser Valley

What you need to know about the ongoing flood situation in Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Hope, and the rest of the Fraser Valley

By Tyler Olsen | November 19, 2021 |8:42 am

UPDATE (Friday, 2pm): Abbotsford decides to repair dike, not build a new levee

This story will no longer be updated after Friday afternoon.

Here’s the very latest as of 3:30pm:

  • Drivers will be restricted to 30 litres of gasoline per gas station visit, in an effort to maintain enough gas for essential vehicles while fuel supply is limited.
  • There are restrictions on non-essential travel on heavily impacted highway routes.
  • Abbotsford will no longer be building a 2.5km levy and is instead building a temporary replacement for the Sumas Dike.
  • Highway 7 between Agassiz and Mission is now open to one lane of traffic each way. Expect major congestion.
  • Highway 7 is open between Agassiz and Hope for essential travel only.
  • Sandbagging Barrowtown Pump Station appears to have alleviated some of the stress on the facility for now. There were no problems overnight, and it is still operating at full capacity.
  • A fire at an RV dealership on Sumas Prairie is now out.
  • Sumas Prairie is still on evacuation order, although Huntingdon has been downgraded to an alert. Yarrow’s evacuation order has also been downgraded to an alert.

More news on the above emergency can be found here. For our feature article on the century-old decision to drain Sumas Lake and depend on pumps to keep its lake bed dry, click here.

Elsewhere:

  • Highways into the Lower Mainland from the Interior remain closed. It’s possible Highway 3 could be reopened as soon as this weekend.
  • Mayor Henry Braun warned yesterday the highway between Chilliwack and Abbotsford is likely to remain closed for days.
  • One person was found dead yesterday after a landslide between Pemberton and Lillooet
  • Schools in Chilliwack and Fraser Cascade districts are closed. Schools in parts of Abbotsford are closed, but others are open. Schools in Mission/Langley are open.
  • We are continuing to update this story this morning.

The City of Abbotsford has shared aerial photos of the flooding that has spread across Sumas Prairie. The City of Chilliwack has shared more of the eastern side of the prairie.

We’ve tried to collect what we know now in one place, along with links for our readers to get the latest on the situation in their community. If you have photos you would like to share, email us at contact@fvcurrent.com.

Our coverage:

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What we know

School closures (as of 8am Friday)

The Fraser Cascade school district has said schools will be closed for the remainder of the week. In Abbotsford, schools west of Sumas Way are open, schools east of Sumas Way are virtual, and schools in evacuation zones are closed until the end of the week. Schools in Chilliwack are closed Friday. Schools in Mission are open, although there will be some bus delays and re-routing. Langley schools are open. The status for schools that are closed this week will be reevaluated on Sunday (Nov. 21).

UFV has cancelled all in-person and virtual classes until the end of the week. The buildings will remain open for faculty, staff, and students. A decision on classes for next week will be made on Sunday at 5pm.

Highway closures (as of 3:30pm Friday)

Closed: Highway 1 through the Fraser Valley, part of Highway 11 between Abbotsford and Mission, and all major highways into and out of the Fraser Valley from the east: Coquihalla; Highway 1 between Hope and Bridal Falls; Highway 3 at Sunshine Valley; Highway 7 at Ruby Creek is still closed to non-essential traffic; Highway 11  at Abbotsford-Huntingdon border crossing. Latest via DriveBC.

There were people trapped in their vehicles on Highway 7, Highway 5, and Highway 3 on Sunday. According to the RCAF, 311 people, 26 dogs, and a cat trapped between two slides on Highway 7 near Agassiz were rescued by military helicopter on Monday.

Open : Highway 3 from Hope to the southern Interior is open. Highway 7 from Agassiz to Mission has reopened to the public, with one lane of traffic in each direction. It is expected to go to two lanes this weekend. This is the first road connecting the eastern Fraser Valley to the rest of the Lower Mainland to open since Highway 1 was flooded. Highway 7 between Hope and Agassiz is open for essential travel only. Highway 9 between Bridal Falls and Agassiz; Highway 1 between Abbotsford (west of McCallum Road) and Vancouver.

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Highway cameras

Sumas Way (east) | Cole Road (west) | Prest Road (west) | Annis Road (west) | Highway 11 (north

You can find more cameras by clicking those above and scrolling down.

Flooding (as of 3pm Friday)

Abbotsford: The evacuation order for the Huntingdon area of Sumas Prairie has been downgraded to an evacuation alert. Evacuation orders are still in place for the rest of Sumas Prairie. (See map here.) There is a boil water advisory for Sumas Prairie. The Barrowtown Pump Station, which was at risk of failing Tuesday night, is now in a more stable condition. A 2.5km levee that was proposed Thursday will no longer be constructed. Instead, the military is working to create a temporary replacement for part of the Sumas Dike, which was breached by floodwaters. Reception centres for displaced residents are set up at the Abbotsford Tradex and Chilliwack landing Centre. An additional evacuation order is in place for a small area of Straiton Road. The only evacuation alert other than Huntingdon is for Clayburn village. Highway 1 between Sumas Way and Yale Road is closed, as is  a portion of Highway 11. See a list of roads closed by mudslides or flooding here. Abbotsford is currently in a state of local emergency. The City of Abbotsford has shared aerial photos of the flooding that has impacted most of the city’s southeastern land.

Chilliwack area: Yarrow ‘s evacuation order has been downgraded to an evacuation alert, except for nine properties on Sand Road, Boundary Road, and No. 5 Road. There is no access to Abbotsford through Yarrow. Several properties on the 47000 block of Yale Road and the 47000 block of Chartwell Drive are also on evacuation order. Properties in Cultus Lake and the Chilliwack River Valley have received evacuation orders from the Fraser Valley Regional District. (More details below.) High water closed Columbia Valley Road to Cultus Lake Sunday, and a detour was put in place through the Soowhalie First Nation. There continue to be multiple road closures, including the Vedder Bridge. All forest service roads in the Chilliwack area are now closed until further notice. Parking lots along the Vedder greenway are closed until further notice. The City declared a state of local emergency Monday.

Agassiz-Harrison area: Landslides have closed Rockwell Drive, and at least one family expects they won’t be able to return to their home for some time, as large trees, boulders, and thick mud have destroyed the property. There is an evacuation order in place for Rockwell Drive north to Lillooet Road. Evacuees are asked to register at the Riverside Christian Reformed Church at 7452 Morrow Road. Sand and sandbags are available at Centennial Park. The approximately 275 people trapped on Highway 7 near Agassiz were rescued by air in military helicopters and taken to Agassiz’s Agricultural Hall. Residents are collected food, dog food, blankets, new stuffed animals for children, masks, hand sanitizer, wipes, and baby formula for the rescuees. Some people trapped closer to Hope were left on the highway, as officials expected the debris to be removed near Hope by late Monday evening.

Fraser Valley Regional District: Evacuation orders are in place for Electoral Area B (Othello Road), Electoral Area H (Cultus Lake), Electoral Area E (Chilliwack River Valley), and Electoral Area D (Bridal Falls). The evacuation order in the Bridal Falls area has been expanded to include several more properties. An evacuation alert is also in place for Electoral Area E (Slesse Park). The FVRD has opened its emergency operations centre and issued a state of local emergency due to flooding and mudslides. People in need of emergency evacuation support can call 604-845-8873.

Hope: All roads in and out of the District of Hope are currently closed, except for Highway 7 which has a single lane open for essential travel. Many travellers were stranded in the community with few vacancies in local motels, although openings on Highway 7 and support from rail lines and helicopters have ensured most people were able to leave. Anyone still looking for a place to stay should contact the Hope Visitor Centre at 604-869-2021. The mayor has indicated the community hasn’t seen any major infrastructure failures as a result of the flooding and landslides.

Mission: There is a local state of emergency and an evacuation order for the Benbow Street area in Hatzic due to due to high lake and groundwater levels. Several roads are closed in Mission due to mudslides and flooding. Free sandbags are available at the public works car park (33835 Dewdney Trunk Rd.).

Harrison Hot Springs: The Village of Harrison Hot Springs has declared a state of local emergency due to localized flooding. Harrison is asking all residents to limit their water and wastewater use, as the sewer and stormwater systems are near capacity.

Langley: Several roads have been blocked by flooding. You can check the Township’s latest list here.

For the latest from these and other communities where flooding hadn’t been reported by Sunday evening, check the links below.

How to get (and give) help

In Abbotsford, sand and bags are available at the city works yard, which is located on King Road, here. In, Chilliwack, one reader reports that Townsend Park has sand and bags for those who need it. In Mission, sandbags are available at the Public Works Department. In Agassiz, sandbags are available at Centennial Park. 

Abbotsford residents needing support can call 604-864-5688 to speak to a staff member; anyone wanting to provide assistance can call that same number.

Financial assistance is available for Fraser Valley residents affected by flooding.

FVRD evacuees who need emergency shelter and food can call the emergency operations centre at 604-845-8873 to self-registered as an evacuee. A needs assessment will be performed to connect residents with appropriate supports. 

In Chilliwack, call 604-7920-2233 to report flooding, landslides, or debris blockages. The temporary boarding stalls at Chilliwack Heritage Park for evacuated horses are now at full capacity, and staff are assessing options. The city has said it is not able to take donations for evacuees, and residents should look to local groups and organizations to see if they have needs. The city has also taken names of people wanting to volunteer, but does not have anymore volunteer positions available at this time. The city’s reception centre for evacuees has moved from Chilliwack Senior Secondary to the Chilliwack Landing Sports Centre (45530 Spadina Ave.). If you or someone you know is in need of housing, please call 604-392-1183 between 8am and 8pm to request assistance. Residents who have extra space available and are willing to assist those requiring shelter can contact Leanna at the Chilliwack Chamber via email  to register.

In Hope, anyone in need of shelter should call the Hope Visitor Centre at 604-869-2021. There are a range of locations able to take in evacuees or people who are still stranded in the community. Showers are available at the Hope Rec Centre, the Hope Fitness Gym, Mountainview Brewing Co., and by inquiring through Christchurch Anglican. Availability for free meals and other resources change daily; you can see more on the Hope, Cascades, and Canyon website.

Some Agassiz and Chilliwack dairy farmers are opening their milk pails due to cancelled milk pickups. Creekside Dairy (3990 Chaplin Rd.) will be open Wednesday through Saturday for milk sales, and is able to provide pasteurized milk for those who bring their own jugs or bottles.

The fundraising site GoFundMe has created a list of verified fundraisers for people affected by the Fraser Valley’s floods and landslides. Other community organizations are also working to organize donations or other drives.

If you have something we should add here, email us at contact@fvcurrent.com.

The threat across the border 

This segment was published Nov. 14. The following day, the northward flow of Nooksack floodwaters triggered the evacuation of much of Sumas Prairie and the closure of Highway 1.

Although the Fraser River doesn’t usually pose a winter flood threat, another river south of the border can create havoc across the Fraser Valley. In 1990, the Nooksack River spilled its banks, flooding much of Sumas Prairie and closing Highway 1. Such floods from the Nooksack can be expected to occur about three times every century.

By Monday morning, the Nooksack was forecast to hit a high not seen in at least two decades.

The Nooksack River is forecast to hit highs not seen in two decades.
The Nooksack River is forecast to hit highs not seen in two decades. 📈 Weather.gov

On Sunday, the City of Sumas warned its residents to expect major flooding. Earlier in the day, Sumas residents took part in a largescale sandbagging operation to prepare for the coming inundation. The Nooksack then breached its banks during the afternoon.

The Nooksack was forecast to crest near or over its 20-year record. Just before 9pm, the City of Sumas told residents: “Earlier this afternoon the Nooksack River overflowed in Everson and the water has been working it’s way north to Sumas ever since. It just crossed over Tom Road. It is moving a little faster than we expected. It could arrive in Sumas as early as 11:00pm tonight. Please remember to shelter in place once the water arrives. That is your safest and best option at that point.”

The Nooksack danger to Abbotsford has been long known, although only recently have officials once again begun to focus on the theat. In 2020, the City of Abbotsford completed a flood mitigation plan that looked at the risk posed by the Nooksack River, and what could be done to reduce the risk. The study found a Nooksack flood could do hundreds of millions of dollars worth of damage. There is even a slight chance that a catastrophic flood could divert the entire river north in an event called an “avulsion.”

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Power outages

Mudslides, car accidents, wind, and flooding have knocked out power for thousands. For a map of all current outages in the region, click here. For a list, with the current status and the number of people affected, click here.

How to get the latest on flooding in Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Hope and Mission

Each local municipality has been generally providing information through social media channels and especially their respective Facebook sites, although some had posted little publicly as of Sunday evening. Click below to check the Facebook site for your local community. Facebook community pages have more local information.

Abbotsford | Chilliwack | Township of Langley | City of Langley | Mission | Hope | Kent (Agassiz) | Harrison Hot Springs | Cultus Lake Park | Fraser Valley Regional District

Road updates via DriveBC: Twitter | Mobile site | Map

Nooksack River gauge

Emergency Information BC watches and warnings

The weather

Rain is in the forecast for next week, with between 10mm and 15mm of precipitation expected each day.

Latest weather forecast for Abbotsford: Environment Canada | Weather Network 

Watch our Facebook and Twitter pages for more updates.

And subscribe below to get our daily newsletter with Fraser Valley features, news, and events information in your inbox every weekday morning.

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Tyler Olsen

Managing Editor at Fraser Valley Current

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