While the northeast of the province deals with fire, the BC River Forecast Centre upgraded its flood warning for the Skeena and Bulkey Rivers, which include the Wet’suwet’en and Gitxsan territories, Telkwa, Smithers, Hazelton, Kispiox and Terrace.
For farmers living in the Skeena Region, especially along riversides, the past week’s unseasonably hot weather presents a significant flood risk. Daytime highs have been 10oC to 15oC above seasonal values, accelerating snowmelt and runoff.
Dena Leier of Graham Acres Homestead and Creamery in Terrace received a flood alert late on May 16, triggering a mobilization plan if the flood waters rise much further on her nine-acre property.
“We’re working with other farms that have higher properties to get our goats into a safe zone,” Leier says. “We’ve got everyone on red alert at the moment.”
Leier and her husband Brad have 12 milking goats, bees, layers, pigs and cows on their property that may need to be relocated in the next day or so.
The farm also producers garlic, and Leier hopes the waters don’t flood out the crop.
“Not only do we have to worry about the river rising, but we have an aquifer under our property,” she adds. “When the rivers that we see rise, so do the aquifers. … We’re just waiting to see gushers coming out of the ground as the water levels become high.”
Leier says this year’s river levels are reaching those of 2021, the worst she’s seen, and they continue to rise.
“It’s still hot, unprecedented heat. And so, we’re kind of just checking every three to four hours and then reassessing,” she says. “Not only that, but we can also still see the snow in the mountains and it’s still melting. And you know, we’re supposed to see a cool off if you will, as of today, but the next two days are really hot.”
Fortunately, the couple have great support in their small farming community with local producers ready and waiting for a call to move animals.
“It makes these scary times a little less scary because you’ve got people coming in bringing food, offering support in any way possible,” Leier says. “It feels good that we’re not just on an island by ourselves.”