With river levels around the Lower Mainland expected to peak sometime this weekend, officials at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Port Coquitlam aren’t taking any chances.
The Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA) has hired a company to build what’s called an Aqua Dam, to protect the hospital on Colony Farm Road against any flooding from the Coquitlam River over the weekend.
“We currently have a ‘stay in place’ model as the projection is that if there is substantial flooding it would likely only impact the main access to FPH (Forensic Psychiatric Hospital) via Colony Farm Road,” a spokesperson for the authority told The NOW via e-mail.
“Therefore the hospital should remain operational during flooding as the back road access point would still be open and allow workers to come and go from the site.”
The e-mail also noted patients would not be transferred, but in the event of severe flooding, the hospital would work with Lower Mainland Emergency Planning to develop contingency plans to safeguard both patients and staff.
A company called Layfield, based in Edmonton, was hired by the PHSA to build the Aqua Dam. The Aqua Dam essentially uses water-filled tubes to control water, rather than the traditional sandbag method.
Crews were out on Friday finishing up the structure around the hospital.
Owen Reid, the business development manager with Layfield, said the company was called in earlier this week to build the structure, and was on site starting Thursday morning.
While the company didn’t have an exact cost for the project, they estimated an operation that would be the equivalent of 3,000 sandbags would cost a little more than $3,000.
In this case, the company was installing four six-feet wide by 100-feet long dams, and another two three-feet wide by 100 feet dams.
Reid noted, unlike sandbags, which can only be used once, the hospital purchased the Aqua Dam components and can reuse them for several years.
Just a short drive down the road from the hospital, the Kwikwetlem First Nation is also getting ready for a potential flood.
Chief Ron Giesbrecht said on Friday the band has 1,500 sandbags filled for deployment, and protection already surrounds a septic pump that could be in the way of any water if the river starts to flood.
Though the chief noted the river level was the highest he’s seen it, he doesn’t expect the river to cause major damage even if it does spill its banks.
He believes the majority of the reserve is high enough away from the water.
“I don’t think anything will happen to us,” Giesbrecht said.
“It would have to be drastic.”
He estimated there might be just one resident affected if there was minor flooding in the area.
Earlier this week, a high stream-flow advisory was issued for the Lower Fraser River, which prompted the City of Port Coquitlam to ready its flood preparedness plans.
The plans included city staff going door-to-door Wednesday handing out flood preparedness materials to 17 properties located outside the dike system and are at the highest risk if flooding occurs.