B.C. braced for more flooding after flooding hits the Pacific coast

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Extra rain this weekend and a new typhoon could worsen widespread flooding and roads closures in British Columbia’s Interior

Floods and landslides have raged through British Columbia as rivers began to recede and roads were opened to traffic after the first major flooding of the season.

Heavy rainfall at the weekend caused rivers to overflow, forcing the closure of a major highway connecting the Pacific coast and the interior of the province.

B.C. asked for help from the United States and the Canadian province said it would have a federal disaster declaration within 24 hours.

A map of flooding in B.C. compiled by Emergency Management BC. Photograph: Emergency Management BC

A drier week is ahead before some more significant rainfall expected on Saturday, forecasters said.

A tropical depression may develop further and be upgraded to a typhoon this weekend before hitting B.C.’s coast and possibly moving south across Alberta, said Bill Simpson, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

A washed-out road in Creston, near Merritt, BC, on Sunday. Photograph: Ian Smith/Reuters

Alberta opened 29 flood-monitoring stations on Tuesday to gather detailed information from areas that have been hit with rain in recent days.

Forecasters said flood watches and warnings for parts of B.C., including the Fraser Valley, may be extended over the weekend.

“We’re very concerned about a couple of tributaries of the (Vancouver) creek that are experiencing significant problems with debris flowing into them,” Simpson said.

The Viterra Railway, a key link between the coast and interior, remained closed after torrential rain on Saturday caused the Fraser River to burst its banks.

Soldiers and rescue teams had been assigned to rescue stranded motorists, said Alberta disaster recovery director Mark Wright.

“However, water levels are rising and the decision was made to close that rail line,” he said.

Soldiers rescue stranded motorists from the flooded Trans-Canada Highway near Merritt, BC. Photograph: Jason Payne/Reuters

All homes and buildings in a 200-acre (80-hectare) evacuation order zone in Cache Creek in the southeastern corner of the province were swamped on Sunday by one of two rivers that crashed into the community.

Fire officials began calling for volunteers to help with recovery efforts on Wednesday, officials said.

“The water level is rising very quickly,” said Eric Watson, a media officer with the nearby Hope fire department.

In the northern city of Fort St John, a recreational vehicle was swept into the Medicine Creek, trapping its occupants. Local media reported that no one was injured.

Watson said the waters from those two rivers are not expected to recede until Friday and people in affected areas were advised to keep away from the water.

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The Skagit river in north central British Columbia has also been rising rapidly. A mudslide on Sunday blocked part of the highway that links Vancouver with the Washington state border.

Elsewhere in the province, a wildfire east of the northern ski resort town of Fernie was “weeping” and threatened homes on Monday, said Peter Crichton, a public information officer with the British Columbia Wildfire Service.

The fire has grown to 4,275 hectares (10,200 acres) and emergency crews were battling it from the air.

The wildfire service and the ministry of forestry confirmed to the Associated Press that they were helping with relief efforts.

Flooding is not typical in British Columbia during the summer, but heavy rainfall can catch residents unaware.

Most rural road closures are lifted in the evening, but highways and byways may remain closed until the next day, said Simpson.

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