BC Had Major Floods Too

Posted by Howard on May 31, 2013

British Columbians have no reason to feel smug about Alberta’s great flood of 2013, which has caused some $3 billion damage to the city of Calgary and surrounding communities. Much of the heavily populated lower mainland of BC resides in the flood plain of the Fraser River and will be susceptible to catastrophic flooding due to changing weather patterns caused by global warming. Much of Richmond, Delta, Surrey and the Abbotsford-Sumas area was subject to seasonal flooding before being protected behind a system of dykes now extending over 600 miles. In May–June, 1894, the Fraser over-topped the dykes then in place, drowning the entire valley west of Chilliwack and washing away homes and businesses, causing millions of dollars' worth of damage and leading the government to launch an extensive diking program. In May 1948, the Fraser overflowed those dykes, resulting in $15 million worth of property damage in the valley. Those same areas now contain an estimated one million inhabitants and property valued in the billions. The river has risen to dangerous levels several times in recent years and resulted in nervous flood-watches throughout the valley. Climate-change experts have warned that much of the Fraser flood plain could once again be submerged in the coming years of rising sea levels and extreme weather events unless extensive mitigation efforts are undertaken.