Katzie put out the call for help as river rises

Working with Pitt Meadows, sandbagging underway in case Fraser River floods

Fraser River could rise more in the next few days. (THE NEWS/files)

Katzie First Nation is putting out a call for volunteers to help stave off the rising Fraser River.

The band issued a notice Wednesday, asking for help filling sandbags, for extra machinery, and for drivers and cooks at the nation’s three reserves in Pitt Meadows, (Indian Reserve 1) Langley (IR-2) and on Barnston Island (IR-3) to prepare for a possible flood.

There are dikes in three areas, but “actually all three of our communities are on the wrong side of the dikes,” said Katzie First Nation Chief Grace Cunningham.

“So that’s our issue.”

The band has open its own emergency operations centre in its office and is working with the City of Pitt Meadows emergency program coordinator.

So far, between 20 and 30 volunteers are at each location.

But Cunningham says more are needed in order to give the first group some relief.

“It’s a lot of hard work. We’re starting to get response, which is wonderful. We fully appreciate the efforts that have come forward so far.

“We’re just going to continue to sand bag until it’s done.”

The river could peak on May 24, she added.

On the Pitt Meadows reserve, sandbagging is taking place at 1968o Salish Rd.

According to the City of Pitt Meadows, the Mission gauge hit 5.5 metres on Tuesday and could reach 6.6 m within the next 10 days, bringing river levels to those seen in 2012.

“Continued warmer-than-normal weather and ongoing accelerated snowmelt are expected to lead to ongoing rapid rises on the Fraser River throughout this week and next. A high streamflow advisory remains in effect for the lower Fraser River,” Pitt Meadows said on its website.

It adds that there is no immediate risk of flooding in areas protected by dikes, but water is running quickly and there is considerable debris in the Fraser River.

Metro Vancouver, earlier on Wednesday, issued an evacuation alert for Barnston Island, in case one is ordered.

The Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure is also operating the Barnston Island ferry around the clock to allow residents to relocate large animals and equipment.

The ferry will keep running as long as possible but will stop if the dock on the island becomes submerged.

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