Canadian Army to build levee in Abbotsford in bid to save Sumas Prairie
Canadian Army engineers and contractors will start building a two-kilometre levee at first light Friday to deal with a broken Abbotsford dike that is allowing water to pour into the already flooded Sumas Prairie.
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said this would lead to the flooding of around a dozen homes near Highway 1, but the city had no other options.
“This has to be done,” Braun said. “Until it’s done, water continues to pour into the Sumas Prairie.”
Braun revealed on Thursday afternoon that Abbotsford was not only dealing with a critical situation at the Barrowtown Pump Station, which sucks water out of the Sumas Canal and into the Fraser River, but that two large breaches had occurred in the dike system that cups the western flank of the Sumas Prairie.
Braun said 600 people had been evacuated from the prairie as farmers did everything they could to rescue livestock. He said the total bill for dike repairs and flood compensation in his city would top $1 billion.
The mayor’s grim financial tally came two days after he issued a late-night warning that the Barrowtown Pump Station was about to fail. If it had, it would have been catastrophic as the Fraser River would have flooded the whole region, adding another three metres of water to the existing floods.
A band of 200 locals sandbagged the station, basically erecting a dam that stopped rising water entering the station and destroying the pumps.
On Thursday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the province would also supply 40,000 sandbags to help protect the pump station.