Flooding on the Nechako River has caused havoc for local residents, businesses and Cedars Christian School.
An ice jam at the confluence of the Nechako and Fraser River caused water to back up into low-lying areas along River Road, Pulp Mill Road and the Delhaven area.
Students at Cedars Christian School were out of classes Monday while the school was under an evacuation order. The order was lifted Monday evening, allowing the nearly 400 Kindergarten to Grade 12 students to return to classes.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” senior principal Vicki Kibbles said. “Part of our school has a crawl space and the water did come into the crawl space. They had just installed pumps and it got pumped out as soon as it came in.”
Staff and volunteers were sandbagging to protect the school on Saturday, when water levels suddenly rose about 0.5 m. However, the water dropped a full metre shortly later.
Kibbles said the school didn’t suffer any water damage and, because they have longer school days than required by the Ministry of Education, should have no trouble making up the lost day.
Local small business owner Kam Ghuman hasn’t been as lucky.
On Monday, the only way to get to his business, GLC Controls Inc., was by a large front-end loader.
GLC Controls is located on Kelliher Drive, just off River Road in the heart of the flooding.
“I’m just looking out our window here at the water right now,” he said, Monday. “It hasn’t come up to the building yet, but it’s right up to the entrance.”
GLC Controls was shut down last Wednesday, had limited operations Thursday and Friday, and was shut down again on Monday.
“Right now we’ve just got the two of us in here. I’ve got 18 staff at home,” Ghuman said. “It’s huge. We’re talking $10,000 a day.”
Businesses including Winton Global, Lakeland Mills and Brink Forest Products have all faced lost production and extra costs.
Delhaven residents David and Dale Hodges count themselves very lucky their condominium didn’t flood while they were away on holiday.
“We were in Mexico and arrived here Friday night to mass panic. We were listening to CBC Radio in Mexico … and we knew it had come up to Pozer Road,” David said. “We’ve been very lucky. Some of our neighbours have had water in their basements and have been evacuated out of their homes.”
Although their home, which backs onto the river, has stayed dry so far, the couple is emptying their basement as a precaution.
“It flooded very close to our house. We’re 10 feet up from the river. Ten feet of water is a heck of a lot of water but there we were,” David said. “We’ve seen river jams before, but this was surging.”
The Hodges and fellow residents are sandbagging to protect their homes now, while the river has dropped again, but a permanent solution is needed, they said.
“We’ve got a problem and we’re going to have an ongoing problem for years yet,” David said. “I’m sure the majority of the homeowners here would be in favour of putting up a dike with some pumps in it.”
Dale said residents in the area are worried about their homes and their safety.
“Some of my neighbours said they’re up every hour or two to check the river level. It’s a terrible stress on people.”
However, neighbour Ellen Corcoran said she’s felt very safe, thanks to emergency workers who’ve kept residents informed.
“Everyone was very helpful. There was people coming around all the time,” Corcoran said. “We never had to leave. We had a little bit of water in our laundry [room].”