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BC town swamped by historic flood braces for melting snow

BC town swamped by historic flood braces for melting snow

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary says fire rescue technicians have rescued more than 30 people by boat in the City of Grand Forks, B.C., sometimes swimming through muddy and debris-laden water to ensure everyone is OK.

Though river levels have nearly receded to pre-flood levels, unseasonably high temperatures across southern and central British Columbia are expected to melt existing snow packs at higher elevations.

Residents of Rock Creek, B.C., sandbagging to save a home on Thursday evening as floodwaters continue to hit large areas of the Interior of the province.

The Regional District of Kootenay Boundary has downgraded 74 properties from evacuation orders to evacuation alerts.

Meantime, in the Okanagan there were more evacuations ordered in the town of Osoyoos.

In Okanagan Falls the residents of more than 50 properties were forced to flee after the banks spilled along Shuttleworth Creek. Water stood at least a metre deep in some downtown streets last night, shutting down Highway 3 through town to low clearance vehicles.

In addition to properties and homes being affected, highways are also feeling the effects of the flooding.

Highway 3, which is one of the main routes in the region, has also been closed just west of Keremeos to all vehicles.

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There have been 23 local states of emergency declared and approximately 4,000 British Columbians have had to evacuate their homes.

Drivers can also expect delays on Kelowna's Westside Road because of a washout in several areas.

Several dykes "failed when overtopped by floodwaters", the district said Saturday night, as crews raced to fix them before the next water-level rise.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre has upgraded to a flood warning for the Okanagan, Boundary, and Salmon rivers.

The Salmon River near Falkland and Salmon Arm is the subject of a flood warning as well.

The province encouraged local governments and First Nations communities along the lower Fraser River to prepare for potential flooding as it experiences high flow rates.

Unseasonably warm temperatures and a rapidly melting snowpack are causing an earlier than normal runoff period for the Fraser River, which is expected to swell throughout next week, according to the agency.

Frances Maika, a spokesperson for the Regional District of Kootenay Boundary said the flood is "in the range" of a once in a 200 year occurrence.