On Tuesday afternoon, Tseshaht Elected Chief Councillor Cynthia Dick said the Alberni Valley was at the Warning Level for flooding, according to Emergency Management B.C. The province has announced that flooding would likely be similar to last year's levels. (Shayne Morrow photo)
Emergency Management BC has issued a warning for flooding in the Alberni Valley, a recurring situation that has once again put residents on the Tseshaht reserve at risk.
Continued heavy rains are causing the Somass River to rise, leading the Tseshaht First Nation to expect similar flooding to what it experienced in 2016. It was a year ago that the downpour caused road closures on the reserve and the Pacific Rim Highway, as well as boil water advisories for some areas of the riverside community.
On Monday the risk became clear as Hugh Braker, the Tseshaht's emergency preparedness chair, took part in a conference call with representatives from Emergency Management BC, the River Forecast Centre, Environment Canada, Storm Surge BC and BC Hydro.
"The River Forecast Centre is advising that, as a result of the pre-existing saturated soil, the anticipated heavy rain and rapidly rising freezing level, the Somass River will equal the flood of last year and maybe higher," said Braker in a warning issued to Tseshaht members.
The river was expected to begin rapidly rising by Tuesday evening.
"People living along the Somass River, in the Hector Road and Pacific Rim Highway areas, should prepare for probable flooding," stated Braker. "People living above Watty's Hill should be prepared for detours in the event the highway is flooded at the bottom of Watty's Hill."
Heavy rain is expected to continue until late Thursday, and then slowly subside.