A sinkhole and sandbags: Rainfall prompts emergency measures in Tofino

Tofino, BC

With the province under a state of emergency as parts of B.C. struggle with flooding from a month of relentless rainfall, the District of Tofino has activated its Emergency Operations Centre.

So far the west coast of Vancouver Island has been spared the hardship imposed on some other regions of B.C., including evacuations in Abbotsford and Merritt. But the consistent rain appeared to finally be taking its toll today, as flooding closed portions of Highway 4 to single-lane alternating traffic. Flooded areas include 1431 Pacific Rim Highway, Red Crow Corner, the Co-op Gas Bar and Lynn Road.

“The Tofino and surrounding region is experiencing higher than expected levels of rain and flooding,” stated the district on its website. “Please use caution on Highway 4 and on local roads and be aware of areas of flooding.”

At 10:30 a.m. the District of Tofino activated its Emergency Operations Centre, a measure that was upgraded to Level 2 by 1 p.m. as the rain continued. A sinkhole on Highway 4 reduced traffic to a single lane. The hole opened up in the southbound lane by the Surf Sister and Tofino Resort + Marina.

“Please reduce all non-essential travel through this area,” cautioned the district.

In the morning Environment Canada issued a warning for heavy rainfall and strong winds, cautioning that total precipitation could reach 200 millimetres by the end of the day.

“The ground, already near saturation, has little ability to absorb further rainfall,” stated the warning.

Another concern is rising temperatures in the surrounding mountains, which could result in increased snow melt.

“Highway 4 as well as other roads through the mountains could be affected by snow melt runoff,” said Environment Canada. “Avoid driving through water on roads. Even shallow, fast-moving water across a road can sweep a vehicle or a person away. Don't approach washouts near rivers, creeks and culverts. Campers should move away from low-lying areas.”

To help Tofino resident ward off rising waters, a sandbag station has been set up at 620 Industrial Way across from the Public Works yard. Households are permitted to fill 20 sandbags each.

“Shovels will be available onsite,” stated the district.

The rain was expected to ease by the evening.

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