A Rapid Response Team for the province of Saskatchewan worked on Wednesday to build a gabion along 7th Avenue and Wardle Street in Hope

Saskatchewan response team arrives to help Hope residents

Gabion installed along edge of vulnerable riverside neighbourhood

You never know when a surge of water is going to push down flooded Wardle Street in Hope. While the river water — from both the Coquihalla and the Fraser — is traveling through the area’s trees and down the road at a seemingly steady pace, the level can change from minute to minute, by as much as eight inches.

It’s that unstable nature of the river that can very quickly erode soil and concrete alike.

But a waist-high gabion was installed Wednesday, as an emergency measure to keep most of that water away from the homes that line Seventh Avenue and Wardle Street. The wall stretches for almost half a kilometre, and was put into place with the help of a Rapid Response Team from Saskatchewan.

They are in town as part of a province to province agreement that deploys emergency workers in times of need.

With water levels expected to peak higher this weekend than they did last weekend, Hope is definitely in need.

“This helps everyone relax,” Kevin McEown said, standing at the gabion on Wednesday afternoon. He’s the team leader, managing the Saskatchewan crew that arrived earlier this week. They are all Emergency Management and Fire Safety Officers, and they’re all working hard to respond to B.C.’s flood emergencies.

This is the first time a team has been deployed from one province to another under the current agreement, McEown said.

Other communities across B.C. are currently being assessed by their own local municipalities who are working with Emergency Management BC.

Working alongside the Saskatchewan team is a crew of about 20 from Wildfire Management, and the District of Hope.

“This is about provinces helping province, neighbours helping neighbours,” McEown said. And having trained people on hand to deal with emergencies on the ground, as they arise, makes a big difference he said.

It’s up to each community to connect with the Emergency Operations Centre in Victoria, which works to help deploy teams such as the one helping Hope.

McEown said they will be helping keep an eye and ear out for other communities in need as long as the rivers remain a threat. Once the gabion was fully in place, crews were going to put pumps along the street to get rid of the excess water.

“The District of Hope is grateful for the assistance the provinces of B.C. and Saskatchewan have provided us,” said Tom DeSorcy, Fire Chief for the District of Hope. “This response is helping our community protect public safety, and it’s also laying the ground work for mitigation in future high water events.”


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