After a week of almost constant rain, Lake Cowichan faced flooding problems over the weekend as the river and lake overflowed their banks.
Kathryn Swan, a regular contributor to the Lake Cowichan Gazette, reported that on Saturday, Jan. 2, the marsh at the west end of the pickleball courts on Cowichan Avenue East had overflown its banks and submerged the corner of Poplar Street and Cowichan Avenue East.
She said that in past years during flooding events, traffic had been detoured along Sahtlam Avenue, but this time Sahtlam Avenue was also flooded, just one block beyond its intersection with Pine Street.
“Luckily the town public works team resolved the double obstacle by removing concrete barriers which had closed Comiaken Avenue to traffic to and from Sahtlam, not far from the roundabout,” Swan said.
“It was rough and muddy, but it was the only way to go. The muddy detour along Comiaken Avenue was somewhat crowded when there was two-way traffic.”
The town’s CAO, Joe Fernandez, said he wasn’t aware of any houses or businesses being flooded over the weekend, but a lot of people with waterfront properties were expressing concerns about rising water levels.
“We provided sandbags to those that needed it,” he said.
“It was a pretty normal event for this time of year, and the heavy rains stopped on Sunday. It didn’t last as long as I thought it would here, but I understand areas around Duncan fared much worse.”
While rain is forecast to continue in the Valley through the first week of the new year, Fernandez said periodic flooding is common in Lake Cowichan and the town will deal with it as best as it can.
“We’re living in an area adjacent to water,” he said.
“When the water overflows its banks, there’s little that we can do.”
On Saturday, B.C.’s River Forecast Centre upgraded its high stream-flow advisory for eastern Vancouver Island to a flood watch as the rain continued.
Shortly after the flood watch was issued, Cowichan Tribes issued an evacuation order for the Wil’seem Road and Sahilton Road areas near Duncan.
Other areas that were on evacuation alert on Saturday afternoon included Quamichan west, Clem Clem, Tyup Road, Joe Road, Green Point and Khenipsen Road.
Last year, during the first few days of February, Lake Cowichan had the worst flooding event in the past 15 years after a heavy rain and windstorm struck the Cowichan Valley, causing the Cowichan Valley Regional District to call a state of emergency.
The flooding forced the evacuation of 23 people in the Crofton area, and the closure of a number of roads, including the Trans-Canada Highway between Nanaimo and Duncan, as well as the Pacific Marine Circle Route from Cowichan Lake to Sooke, and Cowichan Bay Road.