Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said today at a press conference that his goal is to have the washed-out areas of the Sumas dike filled before the next rain event. The forecast is for heavy rain next Tuesday.
The Mayor points to the Nooksack River south of Abbotsford. "if that floods it's coming right back across the Sumas right (up here) that's what we're trying to stop before Tuesday's rain event"
The Nooksack River in Washington State just south of the border is the source for most of the water in the Fraser Valley.
Keeping water from that river away from Abbotsford is the purpose of the Sumas dike.
Today 64 Canadian Armed forces arrived in the Fraser Valley. Soon the number of soldiers will grow to 120. The Canadian Armed Forces Land Task Force Response Unit is being deployed to support Abbotsford's efforts
The city structural and geotechnical engineers have already been hard at work assessing damage and developing a plan to repair the cities dikes.
So far the engineers have assed 10 bridges, 32 km of roads, and 70 culverts.
As of 2 pm today 680 people remain evacuated from the Sumas Prairie,
Mayor Braun: "We know this continues to be a very stressful time for these people and we are working around the clock to find the best solutions to get residents to access to their homes as soon as possible"
Responding to a reporter question about why more progress isn't being seen the Mayor replied:
"The safety of our community remains our number one priority and the situation remains critical here in Abbotsford"
"There is an enormous amount of planning going on behind the scenes, we are now in the execution stage and that will happen very rapidly, it is an enormous task"
"My heart goes out to the farmers, they want to get back on their land but we don't want to lose anyone, we have had no injuries or tragedies we are aware of as of this moment and I don't want to have anybody out here as a victim, so please heed the advice, we are there to serve the public and keep them safe "
The mayor has every confidence the breaches in the dike will be patched by Tuesday morning but he admitted staff doesn't know how strong the portions of the Sumas dike that didn't wash away are.
"The army is on the ground inspecting and walking the dike, they have found weak areas that haven't let go yet but they may. That's why I'm saying things can change."
There was no guarantee the worst is over.
Before floodgates can be opened to pump the floodwater into the Fraser the river has to drop at least a foot below the level of the Sumas River.
The Fraser has been running high because of the atmospheric river that passed through southern BC.
The Fraser River only dropped 6 inches overnight, it was expected to come down 2 feet.
"As soon as that happens we will open that up and it will contribute to letting out a lot of water, seven times more than is being let out now"
The Fraser River has to drop another 18 inches before the flood gates can open.
Answering another question from a reporter why feed trucks aren't getting thru to livestock the mayor replied:
"if they're trying to get on those roads someone's going to get killed, they're going to die, the feed truck will go over. Those are irrigation ditches, twenty feet deep in some places. We won't even know they're in there"
The Mayor took time to acknowledge city staff, engineering teams, and first responder teams.
He said: "I want to thank every one of you, without you we would not be where we are today, thank you"