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Road closures broaden, more areas evacuated due to floods

Heavy rain is continuing to cause major problems around the East Kootenay.

In Kimberley, water has risen about three centimetres Friday morning in the flood-prone Morrison subdivision, which was last subject to heavy flooding one year ago.

"The water did come up over night," said City of Kimberley's Chief Administrative Officer Scott Sommerville. "We have brought in sandbags and they are stockpiled in the subdivision if anyone needs them. Right now the culverts are slightly overwhelmed."

Several properties on the ?aq'am (St. Mary's Band) lands are at risk of flooding, and sandbagging is currently underway.

Highway 93/95 was closed on Friday morning at Skookumchuck. One resident near the Springbrook campground said the bridge over the Kootenay River is intact but the banks are eroding. Sgt. Laurie Jalbert of Kimberley RCMP said the bridge is not believed safe for the general public.

Wasa Lake has now breached its banks, Sgt. Jalbert said, but did not have any further information at the time.

In Fairmont, a state of emergency remains in place for the area around the resort and Dutch Creek area. Residents of Dutch Creek who were evacuated have not yet been allowed to return to their homes, and RDEK Area F Director Wendy Booth said the campground continues to take on water.

Parts of Hosmer was evacuated Friday morning. Lower Hosmer and Cokato Road are under evacuation alert.

Parts of Sparwood have also been evacuated. Sparwood, Elkford and Fernie have declared a state of emergency. Only one home in Elkford has been evacuated so far.

According to the River Forecast Centre, the Elk River is rising at about 10 centimetres an hour. The current river level at Fernie Water Survey Gauge is at 4.53m, approximately 20 centimetres above the flood of record (1995).

Kimberley remains under a boil water advisory as a suspected slide has affected the water supply.

Roads around the East Kootenay remain closed, although Highway 3 through the Crowsnest Pass is still open to alternating one-lane traffic.

As well as the closure of Highway 93/95 at Skookumchuck, Highway 93 from Radium to Castle Junction remains closed because of multiple washouts. No estimated time of opening has been provided. Highway 1 is closed between Golden and Banff.

In Alberta, Highway 1 into Calgary is closed, and Highway 2 between Nanton and High River is reported to be closed.

Cranbrook has so far come out of the heavy rain reasonably unscathed.

"It appears our portion of the East Kootenay has escaped a bullet," said Joe McGowan, Cranbrook's Director of Public Works. "We are one of the very fortunate ones."

The turbidity levels in Cranbrook's water are well within standard, he went on.

Joseph Creek is experiencing localized flooding in the "usual areas" between Baker Park and the Green Clinic, but no buildings are threatened.

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