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Abbotsford mayor ‘extremely concerned’ about potential for flooding from U.S. this weekend

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun says his city remains “extremely concerned” about the possibility of floodwaters from the United States arriving this weekend.
During a news conference Saturday afternoon, Braun said he met with officials in Whatcom County, Wash. Saturday morning to discuss flooding from the Nooksack River.

He said the U.S. officials told him it’s “challenging” to predict how severe the flooding from the river will be during the current storm because of infrastructure damage and sediment buildup.

Braun said he’s confident Abbotsford’s dike and pump infrastructure can handle the 120 millimetres of rain that are forecast to fall on the city by Sunday morning. He’s less certain how the city will fare if the Nooksack floods – and how severe the Nooksack flooding might be.

“We have done everything we can in a very short period of time,” Braun said.

Washington officials have warned that the Nooksack is expected to overflow its banks and flood the town of Everson this weekend.

Floodwaters may also make their way to the U.S. city of Sumas, which would then mean more flooding north of the border in Abbotsford’s Sumas Prairie.

Much of the prairie has been underwater for nearly two weeks, since a devastating storm sent floodwater from the Nooksack north earlier this month.

On Saturday, Canadian Forces soldiers stacked sandbags along a rail line in Abbotsford near the U.S. border in preparation for the potential flood.

Braun began his remarks with some good news, saying the situation on Sumas Prairie had remained stable, with the Barrowtown Pump Station – which drains the former Sumas Lake into the Fraser River – operating at full capacity.

“Last night we saw floodwater levels drop in the Sumas Prairie lake bottom by nine inches in 24 hours,” the mayor said. “That may not be the case for today into tomorrow.”

He warned residents of Abbotsford’s Huntingdon village – who are on evacuation alert – that they may be in the path of floodwaters from the Nooksack.

“Prior to an evacuation order being issued, we will be doing our very best to provide residents with as much advance notice as possible,” Braun said. “However, residents still need to be prepared to leave immediately as we may only receive limited notice due to changing conditions.”

The mayor said residents of the Huntingdon area could go to Huntingdon Park to pick up sandbagging supplies for their homes. Such supplies are also available for residents of other parts of the city at Albert Dyck Park, Braun said.

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