NEWS: Catastrophic flood warning issued as pump failure leads to Fraser River flood

All residents in Sumas Prairie must immediately leave their homes due to a serious risk to life

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The Fraser River was expected to flood into the Sumas Prairie and surrounding areas on Tuesday night, causing catastrophic damage and a potential risk to life.

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At 8pm on Tuesday, the City of Abbotsford issued a warning that all residents of the Sumas Prairie – the low-lying area in south-east Abbotsford – were immediately evacuating. This included farmers who stayed with their animals.

There was an evacuation warning issued earlier in the day, but a few people remained. There is also an evacuation order currently in the neighboring Yarrow area in Chilliwack.

In a prepared statement, the City of Abbotsford said the Barrowtown Pump Station – which serves as a critical piece of infrastructure to ensure the Sumas Lake is not being reformed – was about to fail.

“With the failure of this key infrastructure, water within the Sumas Prairie will not be able to be pumped out and water from the Fraser River will begin to enter the already flooded Sumas Prairie area,” the statement read.

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The event is predicted to be disastrous. The City of Abbotsford has closure water to the area.

In the city’s warning to remaining residents to quickly leave, it states that there is a “significant risk to life.”

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said late Tuesday that he had spoken with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth on Tuesday night and they had promised to provide pumps and other equipment.

He said when the pump station fails, there will be 10 feet of water through much of the prairie.

The four-pump Barrowtown Pump Station is at the top of the Sumas Lake Canal, south of where the Chilliwack River flows into the Fraser, and holds the Fraser River at bay.

According to a 2013 report written by City of Abbotsford staff looking for money to upgrade the electrical system at the facility (built between 1977 and 1983) if the station fails it will result in about $ 500 million in damages and impact “major transportation and utility corridors such as Highway 11, 1, railways, underground gas / oil “

“A major flood in the area will significantly impact food producers and food processing companies, and would cause job losses that usually take 5-10 years to recover,” the report stated. There are about 1,400 farms in the Sumas Prairie.

The last time a major flood event occurred in the Fraser River was in May 1948 when 16,000 people were forced from their homes and 22,000 acres arrived under water.

Last March, the Fraser Basin Council released a report stating that a major flooding of the river could cost between $ 20-30 billion in damage.

The council stated that the Fraser dam system that protects large parts of the valley was threatened with failure.

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