Police are urging community members to avoid taking their boats and kayaks into evacuated areas of Abbotsford in order to allow access to emergency crews working to get people to safety.
Since Monday (Nov. 15), when the region was hit with unprecedented and torrential downpour, Abbotsford residents were quick to mobilize on their personal boats and help fellow community members get to safer and dry conditions.
The Sumas Prairie area remains under an evacuation order due to flooding caused by the Nooksack River across the border and the imminent failure of the Barrotown pump station.
In a news conference Wednesday, Abbotsford police Chief Mike Serr shared his appreciation for everyone who has stepped up to help, but also issued a warning of caution to those interfering with various emergency crews and officials entering into evacuation zones.
In one instance, kayakers were yelling at police after being told to get out of a now-flooded area, he told reporters.
“This is toxic water. This water has been leaching in from all the different areas. We don’t have a full assessment of how bad it is. But assume this water is not something that you want your children in a kayak in, or that you don’t want to be swimming or wading in.”
He added that if a levee were to fail, lives would be unnecessarily put at risk.
Rescue crews continued to help get the remaining residents in the area to safety through Wednesday.
An update from the city on those efforts is expected at 4 p.m.