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Pumps and fans in hot demand as heavy rains flood basements and roads on Island

Dorothy Griffin awoke to the sound of rushing water hitting the side of her home on Lansdowne Road.

Water from heavy rainfall overnight and into the morning flowed off the street over plugged drains down her driveway and around her home, seeping into her basement and washing out her pathway and backyard garden.

The 97-year-old Oak Bay resident said street drains were clogged with leaves from oak trees.

She said three firefighters took about half an hour to clear the drains Monday morning, but the damage was already done.

“It’s an entirely predictable and preventable problem,” said Griffin, adding she has been flooded before — around Christmas two years ago and the following February, both times as a result of leaf-clogged street drains.

Hundreds of homes across the region were experiencing similar flooding after what Environment Canada called “an atmospheric river” dropped up to 150 millimetres of rain across much of the Island and southern B.C.

Saanich Peninsula Hospital closed its emergency room Monday morning, saying flooding posed a risk to essential equipment. The hospital said in a statement that patients in urgent need of medical care were being diverted to Victoria General or Royal Jubilee hospitals, adding Island Health would continue to assess the situation.

Pooling water covered large areas of the hospital grounds and loading areas.

The Royal B.C. Museum, B.C. Archives and IMAX theatre closed on Monday, citing plumbing problems caused by extreme rainfall.

In Saanich, Garrett Simon, manager of Saanich Rentals, said the company’s entire inventory of pumps, hoses, humidifiers and fans — anything used in flood remediation — was spoken for within an hour of its 7 a.m. opening Monday.

“Twenty people were lined up when I got to work,” said Simon. “We’ve had people on hold all morning. One lady who came in just broke down into tears when I had to tell her we had nothing left.”

Simon said he tried to acquire equipment from other suppliers in the region, but “everyone’s just out.”

Public works and parks departments were busy dealing with flooding through the weekend and on Monday.

Saanich closed sections of 11 roads due to flooding, including the stretch between Mount Douglas Park and Cordova Bay in both directions.

Saanich police Const. Markus Anastasiades said the municipality saw flooding in a number of areas, including Cordova Bay Road near Ash Road, Prospect Lake Road near Meadowbrook Road, Oldfield Road and Walton Place, and Quayle and Interurban roads. He said police were called about 8:20 a.m. Monday to flooding at Quayle and Interurban by a motorist who got stuck in the rising water.

The region’s largest municipality also said its storm-drainage systems, creeks and waterways were at capacity, and residents were being asked to avoid some water uses, such as showers and running dish­washers. Drains feed directly into the same systems diverting the rain waters.

Parts of the boardwalk at Swan Lake Nature Sanctuary were flooded and impassable.

The City of Victoria closed all playing fields, except the artificial turf at Topaz Park, at least until Wednesday.

Spokesman Bill Eisenhauer said some parks and playground areas — including the Vic West Skate Park — have been closed off because of flooding, and the city is cautioning people as winds pick up that the ground is saturated, increasing the risk of falling trees or tree limbs.

Crews in Beacon Hill Park were moving flood waters from Goodacre Lake into street drains nearby.

Leaf collection continues in most municipalities in the region, with residents warned to keep the piles away from street drains.

Langford city crews were scrambling with several flooded roadways, including on Bear Mountain, where a pedestrian stairway turned into a waterfall and spilled onto the Bear Mountain Parkway. A sinkhole was also reported near Arngask Park, and Capital Regional District crews were called to address concerns at the sewage lift station on Walfred Road.

Langford said sandbags are available to residents at Firehalls 2 and 3, Centennial Park and Millstream Elementary School.

Central Saanich said sandbags are also available at its public works yard, and warned people to stay off forested trails and parks amid strong winds.

In North Saanich, a creek cut through Chalet Road, leaving a two-metre exposed trench across the roadway. The municipality said its crews were working on a number of flood-related issues around the district, “prioritizing and responding as quickly as we can.”

Reay Creek at Victoria International Airport also spilled its banks and flooded trails and pathways.

The Capital Regional District said the heavy rainfall on Sunday and Monday caused combined stormwater and sewage overflows along some shorelines in Greater Victoria, including Saanich, Victoria and Oak Bay. Beachgoers were advised to stay out of the water because of the health risk.

The CRD also issued wastewater discharge notices for the shoreline at Boat Nook on North Pender Island, and in the vicinity of Gasoline Alley in Ganges on Salt Spring Island.

The regional district issued a boil-water advisory for the Port Renfrew area, saying water quality may have been compromised as a result of flooding of the water system. The advisory will be in effect until flushing is complete and Island Health determines if water samples no longer pose a risk.

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• Pamela White shared her account of an unexpected adventure on Monday while trying to travel to Nanaimo.

My sister and I were heading up to Nanaimo from Victoria on the Trans-Canada Highway this morning to pick up a pair of rescue kittens.

In Duncan, we were told the highway was closed at Russell Farm Market and had to turn the car around. At about the same time we were told the Malahat was closed. 

Couldn't do anything so we decided just to hang out in Duncan. Couldn't go north and couldn't go south.  

Then the Malahat was opened so we quickly went back down south and were about 75 to 100 cars back in a lineup before they shut down the highway for the second time. 

We turned around again and went to the Mill Bay ferry terminal. We arrived about 1:15 p.m. and were told we would be on the 6:30 sailing to Brentwood. They only take 15 to 20 cars at a time, but we got on the 5:20 sailing and now finally I'm home.