In an emotional final emergency press briefing, Abbotsford's mayor provided the latest updates on the region's flooding reparations and thanked many involved in the city's recovery.
On Friday (Dec. 10) Mayor Henry Braun spoke to the press about Abbotsford’s progress in recovering from the devastating floods brought on by extreme weather events last month. Braun announced the city would be lifting the final portion of the evacuation order for the Sumas Prairie with the exception of a few homes north of the Sumas River.
"We are speaking with these homeowners directly about their individual scenarios and plans for re-entry,” Braun said. “The old lake bottom is the red area on our return path.”
Earlier this week the city was able to remove the do not drink advisory for water service in Sumas Prairie. However, a boil water advisory still remains in place as the system is flushed.
Inspections and assessments of roads, culverts and bridges are also nearly fully completed.
"With all of this important work complete, we are taking this fourth and final step in implementing our return home plan today," Braun continued.
Not out of the woods yet
Although Braun called the lifting of evacuation orders great news, he is aware there are still residents unable to go back into their homes as many structures and roads in Sumas Prarie remain damaged.
"our Return Home website includes specific and essential information for evacuees which will help guide them to return to their properties," Braun said.
Braun also mentioned weather forecasts calling for 40 to 60 mm of rain to fall over the next two days. More significantly, he noted, were the 60 kilometre per hour winds.
"While those wind speeds aren't unusual, with the ground as supersaturated like it is, it can easily become problematic for trees," Braun said.
Moving to speak more personally, Braun fought back tears as he called the last month a “surreal” experience.
"But I do believe the worst days are behind us,” Braun said. “I am encouraged that we are now in the final step of our return home plan. And I am optimistic that from this point on it will be two steps forward with no further steps back."