Unprecedented flooding displaced hundreds of Princeton residents in a matter of hours on Sunday night.
Mariah Puchalski got to her Princeton area home at 5 p.m. yesterday. While she saw the Tulameen River was high, after days of rain, it didn’t concern her.
“It was maybe around six feet, so it had a way to go before it breached the dyke,” she said.
“I’m sure no one thought a couple of hours later the river would be pouring into town and flooding people’s homes.”
It was 2 a.m. when she was woken up by a friend who was being evacuated.
The Tulameen River breached dykes in several areas of town late Sunday. It also flooded Old Hedley Road.
“We rushed out to see the water breaching different parts of town,” she said.
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“It’s been extremely hectic. I can’t imagine what people are going through — (those) who lost their homes.”
Princeton’s Mayor said Spencer Coyne said the water has receded some since early Monday when the Tulameen spilled into residential areas.
In an early morning interview, he stood next to the highway and pointed to a home that had a significant proportion underwater.
In all, rising water has forced an estimated 290 families to evacuate their homes. More than 100 other residences are in the alert zone.
“I’ve lived here most of my life and I’ve never seen water like this,” he said. “I know a gentleman who’s been here 65 years and said he’s never seen a flood like this.”
Dealing with the water is creating a number of issues beyond evacuations. The city works yard has flooded and the city is on a boil advisory.
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“It’s treacherous everywhere right now, if you don’t need to travel then please don’t,” he said. “We are already stretched thin, we don’t have the resources.
He’s also expecting the temperatures to drop overnight, which could make things worse.
Coyne hasn’t slept much since rain started wreaking havoc. He, the town foreman and firefighters showed up to direct traffic through the community Sunday, as hundreds of cars backed up on Highway 5A were forced through the town’s main intersection.
Earlier in the day, three separate slides closed the Coquihalla, and Highway 1 just north east of the Lower Mainland.
Now town volunteers are at the firehall doing sandbagging. Pumper truck crews are trying to clear storm drains and manholes — working around the clock.
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The Tulameen Bridge has been completely washed out. Coalmont residents have been evacuated to the Tulameen Fire Hall. Dozens of addresses in the area are under evacuation order.
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