Serious flooding was averted over the weekend, but residents evacuated from unprotected areas in Abbotsford's Glen Valley and Matsqui Prairie are bracing for even higher water levels toward the end of the week.
Fraser River levels at the Mission gauge are expected to peak between 6.7 and 7.3 metres sometime between Thursday and Sunday, according to the River Forecast Centre.
That could top a 40-year-old record high, as the last time water levels topped seven metres was in 1972, when water levels reached 7.1 m.
The city has lifted the flood evacuation orders issued Friday but will likely reinstate them on Wednesday or Thursday, Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service Deputy Chief Mike Helmer said, adding the emergency operations team is using the reprieve to determine which homes not protected by the Matsqui dike might be affected by the higher water.
"It allows some time to know which additional residences in Glen Valley within the unprotected area might be impacted," he said.
Only two houses on the west and east ends of River Road are still under the evacuation order.
Water levels are expected to remain constant for the early part of the week and authorities are permitting some residents back into the danger zone. The area will stay under an evacuation alert and residents need to be prepared to abandon their homes on short notice if the water levels start to rise, noted Helmer.
On Friday a total of 17 homes in Glen Valley and three homes on Walters Road in Matsqui Prairie were issued evacuation orders.
Firefighters helped residents sandbag a home in the 27600 block of River Road earlier that morning. Residents can choose whether to stay or go during an evacuation but emergency responders don't conduct rescues at homes issued an order, Helmer said.
Most of River Road in Glen Valley was blocked over the weekend as emergency coordinators were concerned about the stability of the road and ability of residents to access their properties.
As of Monday, River Road east of Bradner Road was still open to local traffic only. A number of homes in the Glen Valley area have some water in their basements. Endangered homes are not so much at risk from flooding from the Fraser as ground seepage, Helmer said.
City engineers are closely monitoring River Road and the Matsqui dike. The dike, which is being inspected every six hours, ranges from nine metres to 9.8m so the Fraser River is not expected to top the system.
"With the higher water on the dikes, there's potential for issues to occur," said Helmer. "But if the dikes do what they are engineered to do, we'll be fine. We don't anticipate any issues but we have to be prepared."
However, residents are gearing up for another fresh water assault.
Floodwaters got within 10 feet of Charlie Sherlock's house on Walters Road before receding on Sunday.
Sherlock and other members of his extended family have three homes on a 20-acre property that is not protected by the dike.
Family and friends came out to help sandbag the homes on Friday afternoon. It seems to have done the trick for now as his home, the lowest-lying house, stayed dry, even during the storm on Sunday.
"We sandbagged the heck out of it," said Sherlock.
His cousin, Rod Forrest, said the family is used to dealing with floods.
"It's the second time I've seen [a flood]," said Forrest.
"My grandma has been living on the property for 69 years. It's old hat for her. She saw the flood of '48 too."
Although the 86-year-old was eventually moved to a relative's house over the weekend, she originally didn't want to go, said Forrest.
But she pitched in to shore up the defences before consenting to leave.
"She helped us sandbag," he said. "She's a tough old woman. My grandparents were farmers their whole life."
Sherlock said there's not much more to be done if the waters rise again. The homes have been sandbagged and if the water tops a certain level, BC Hydro will have to shut down the electricity and the pumps won't work, he said.
"You can plan but there's only so much you can do."