Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun introduced the city’s Return Home Plan on Friday (Dec. 3) for flood evacuees, starting with the northern portion of Sumas Prairie.
Speaking at the city’s daily press conference, Braun said the evacuation order has immediately been lifted for the area that is north of Highway 1 between Sumas Way and Whatcom Road, including the businesses located directly east and adjacent to Whatcom.
He said this area is “relatively dry” and is the first of four areas in which evacuation orders are being lifted.
Braun said there are about 240 properties in the northern portion and approximately 1,100 across Sumas Prairie that have been impacted by the flooding.
Orders in the other three areas – identified as south, central and lake bottom – will be lifted in the coming days as the floodwaters continue to recede, Braun said.
The “lake bottom” is expected to be the last area in which residents will be able to return.
Braun said teams are continuing to assess the damage to homes across the region as the waters abate, and some of them might not be habitable.
“We recognize this may bring many questions, particularly for those who receive a Do Not Enter notice,” he said.
He said a special phone line has been set up for people who have questions about their assessment. The number is provided on the notice posted on their front doors or other structures when residents return to their homes.
Information can also be obtained from the Return Home Centre at Tradex or on the city website (abbotsford.ca/returnhome), where people can check to see if their address is included in the rescinded evacuation order.
They can also see which routes are open to access their properties, where they can find potable water and who to contact for support.
“We are confident that we can connect people with the information they need to start rebuilding,” Braun said.
He said residents can also connect with the Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief team set up at Northview Community Church to help with cleanup efforts. The number is 1-833-738-7743.
Financial support for flood recovery will come from the provincial and federal governments. A link for more information is available on the city website.
Braun said the water levels in Sumas Prairie dropped 12 inches in the last 24 hours, and he is “very encouraged” by what lies ahead.
“We are definitely through this. I have no idea what’s coming at us three weeks from now, if anything, but the forecast for the next two weeks is very good,” he said.
But he acknowledged that “the hardest work is still ahead,” with the rebuilding process expected to take years.
Braun said city staff will be monitoring the situation over the weekend, and the next press conference will be held at 2 p.m. Monday on the city’s YouTube channel.