For the second time in three years, our community is facing flooding of record proportions. The community has been thrown into emergency mode—especially the Tseshaht First Nation, which has many homes situated along the swollen Somass River.
As in 2014, homes along the Somass have had to be evacuated due to risk of flooding, and massive sandbagging efforts helped protect those homes.
The incredible amount of rain we’ve had has also raised the level of Sproat Lake more than 10 feet, and several properties along the lake are also under threat of flooding, or have already experienced flooding.
The City of Port Alberni has spent two years building the Dry Creek spillway and twinning out its water and sewer lines in South Port in the hopes of preventing flooding on Third Avenue; those efforts have so far been successful, utilities superintendent Brian Mousley says, but there are still areas of concern.
Port Alberni is situated in a unique topographical area, surrounded by mountains on three sides and with the Somass River under tidal influences from the Alberni Inlet, which reaches out to the west coast and Pacific Ocean. It’s why we have tsunami warning paraphernalia in place.
All these factors indicate that it is time we re-think where we build. We have a massive flood plain, and Mother Nature is perhaps giving us a hint that we should respect it a lot more when building.