Flooding causes evacuations, road closures on Vancouver Island
Published Saturday, February 1, 2020 12:08PM PST Last Updated Saturday, February 1, 2020 7:36PM PST
VANCOUVER -- Several Vancouver Island residents have been evacuated from their homes and a local state of emergency has been declared as widespread flooding struck the island Saturday.
The Cowichan Valley Regional District declared a local state of emergency, saying 23 people had been evacuated from the community of Crofton after 10 p.m. Friday night.
Evacuations continued early Saturday morning, with the Cowichan Community Centre opening as an emergency lodging. Some 28 residents from North Cowichan and the Halalt First Nation were staying their Saturday.
Farther south, Highway 1 was closed between Duncan and Chemainus because of flooding beginning around 4:30 a.m. The road remained closed for several hours, fully reopening after 10:30 a.m., according to DriveBC.
Flooding also closed Highway 1 at MacKenzie Avenue in Saanich for a similar time frame. As of 10:30 a.m., the road had reopened to single-lane alternating traffic northbound. A single lane was also open southbound, DriveBC said in a tweet.
Elsewhere, a mudslide between Wellswood Road and Finlayson Arm Road near Goldstream Provincial Park prompted intermittent closures on Highway 1. DriveBC said drivers should expect 15-minute closure periods.
Heavy rain struck the island and the Lower Mainland overnight Friday and into Saturday morning. By noon, however, the rain had mostly passed, leaving partly cloudy skies behind.
Posts on social media showed flooded parking lots and yards as streams and rivers overwhelmed their banks even after the rain had stopped falling.
The parking lot at Western Speedway in Langford bore more resemblance to a river.
At 10 a.m., British Columbia's River Forecast Centre upgraded flood warnings for western and southern Vancouver Island. The centre also issued a flood watch for eastern Vancouver Island.
In announcing the watches, the centre noted heavy flows were the result of a "rain-on-snow event" for much of the island, as Friday night's rain brought warmer air with it.
According to the river forecast centre, the San Juan, Koksilah and Chemainus rivers had all reached at least 50-year flows. The Cowichan River reached somewhere between a 20- and 50-year flow, and the Nanaimo river reached a 10-year flow.
River flows are expected to gradually recede through the rest of the weekend, though rivers with lake sources - such as the Cowichan River - will take longer to recede, the centre said.
This is a developing story and will be updated as more information becomes available.