On this day in 1948, the Fraser Valley Flood took its grip on the community, causing an estimated $20 million in damages (equal to over $210 million in 2010). According to Environment Canada, it was the greatest flood the region had seen since that of 1894.
Fraser Valley Flood of 1948
By the time the flood reached its peak on June 10th, nearly one third of the entire lower Fraser Valley floodplain area had been doused, from Chilliwack to Mission. The flood was caused by rapid snow melt, which caused levels to rise dramatically. There was an evacuation of 16,000 people and damage or complete destruction of about 2,000 homes.
The passage of five decades had witnessed the transformation of the lower Fraser Valley into a highly developed agricultural area, with commercial and industrial development becoming appreciable and suburban residential areas beginning to appear. Two transcontinental rail lines and the Trans-Canada Highway had been built through the valley, and the largest airport in the province had been established on Sea Island.
The floodwaters severed the two transcontinental rail lines; inundated the Trans-Canada Highway; flooded urban areas such as Agassiz, Rosedale, and parts of Mission, forcing many industries to close or reduce production; and deposited a layer of silt, driftwood and other debris over the entire area. [Environment Canada]
The Fraser Basin Council reports that since 1948, the Fraser River has not had a flood of this magnitude, although there have been many high water events and limited floods. Today in the Fraser Basin, there are about 600km of dikes, 400 floodboxes and 100 pump stations to protect communities and infrastructure from flooding.