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Rainfall floods South Surrey, White Rock roads

Heavy rainfall wreaked havoc in parts of South Surrey and White Rock Sunday and overnight, flooding roads with water and debris.

Monday morning, 16 Avenue remained closed to traffic between 168 and 176 Streets, as crews worked to clear mud and gravel from both lanes.

Rob Constanzo, Surrey's acting operations manager, said the mess was the result of "a 100-year rain event" in combination with a rising tide.

The weekend rainfall was more than typically seen in the entire month of May, he said.

"Over the weekend, we had 91.6 mm… with 86.2 falling on Sunday," Costanzo said.

In White Rock, 21.2 mm fell between 3 and 4 p.m. Sunday, and another 12.6 mm fell between 5 and 6 p.m.

"So the storm was basically a 100-year event… between 6 (p.m.) and midnight)… and it was a 50-year event over the 24-hour period."

East White Rock and South Surrey were the hardest hit.

Surrey crews closed 16 Avenue around 9 p.m. Sunday, after a ditch in the 17200-block overflowed, sending four-inch-deep water and debris surging across the roadway.

The road was expected to reopen around midday Monday.

Surrey deputy fire Chief Dan Barnscher agreed the Semiahmoo Peninsula's south end "got swamped."

Dispatchers fielded 259 non-emergency public-works calls on Sunday – nearly triple the 87 recorded the day before, he said.

Firefighters helped out as much as possible, he added.

Such was also the case in White Rock, where the volume of rain exceeded the capacity of the Habgood Street pump station.

"It was more rain than our system can handle," said Greg St. Louis, the city's director of engineering and municipal operations.

St. Louis said additional city workers were called in at 5 p.m. Sunday to help with the "high-intensity rainfall," which necessitated a short road closure on Marine Drive between Stevens and Keil Street.

The workers were able to head home by 11 p.m.

Extra pumps were brought in to direct the overflow onto the Semiahmoo First Nation property, so that it could drain into the Little Campbell. The band was "very co-operative," St. Louis noted.

Cleanup efforts continued Monday morning.

St. Louis described the flooding as "really localized," and said he is waiting to hear if any residents experienced problems as a result.

White Rock fire Chief Phil Lemire said his crews helped on Marine Drive and Pacific Avenue, responding to water-related issues in nine buildings Sunday. They also helped with sandbagging and the portable pumps; "trying to mitigate and minimize the damage."

White Rock resident Ron Eves said he was in the affected area, and described puddles on the road as deep enough to submerge the tires of vehicles driving through. As well, water was "geysering up" from the storm drains.

"The pooling, the flooding – it was ugly down there," he said.

While Eves questioned if job action by unionized city employees impacted the city's response effort, St. Louis said it did not.

"Not at all. Our work force did an excellent job with the assistance of fire. If there's an emergency, they'll step in, step up."

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