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Mount Currie remains on flood alert

Five homes evacuated Tuesday night but Lillooet River may have peaked

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By Cindy Filipenko

It’s a frustrating game of wait and see as the town of Mount Currie remains on flood alert, four days after the Birkenhead River began overflowing its banks.

Rains and the spring run-off, exacerbated by sweltering weekend temperatures, have engorged local waterways surrounding the home of the Lil’wat Nation.

On Monday, the Birkenhead River covered Portage Road about 11 km north east of Mount Currie. More dramatically affected was Lillooet Lake Road (Highway 99) towards the Mount Currie New Site community, where waters made the road impassable.

As of the morning of Wednesday, June 6, five homes had been evacuated in the community, while another 50 homes remain on alert. Crews are continuing to sandbag at-risk properties along the Lillooet Lake Road and on the Old Reserve. The original Mount Currie settlement is on land adjacent to the Lillooet River.

Changes to the flow of the Birkenhead River have made it difficult to confirm any changes in the rivers' level.

In the meantime, Highway 99 remains open with single lane alternating traffic.

Emergency support services are available for residents of Mount Currie around the clock. Residents can contact Xit'olacw Community School at 604-894-6131.

Emergency Services Coordinator Russell Mack said relief could soon be on the way. Alpine temperatures have dropped and impending rainfall is not at levels that warrant great concern.

Emergency services from Pemberton are assisting Mount Currie in managing the flood.

B.C. Environment’s River Forecast Centre issued a high streamflow advisory for the Lillooet River on Monday, June 4 at 2 p.m. The advisory noted that the Lillooet had been rising steadily for the previous five-six days. Discharge was about 600 cubic metres per second and was expected to plateau Tuesday or Wednesday at 650-700 cms.

The River Forecast Centre cited the October 2003 flood as a reference, noting that the water level then was 2.5 metres higher than its current level.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 people living along the Fraser River were on evacuation alert Wednesday and in the northern B.C. town of Terrace a state of emergency was declared after road links to the east and west of town were lost due to flooding. Fifty families in the Terrace area were ordered from their homes Wednesday as the Skeena River continued to rise.

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