Flooding street regarding the Grand Forks flood class action lawsuit filed

Grand Forks property owners have lodged a class action lawsuit alleging mismanagement of forests by British Columbia agencies and timber industries led to catastrophic flooding in the area that occurred in May of 2018.

The lead plaintiffs say that government agencies allowed timber industries to overharvest the Kettle River Basin, where the town of Grand Forks, B.C., a town of approximately 4,000, is located. As a result, the area suffered an “unprecedented flooding event” between May 8 and May 11, 2018, as well as other floods since. The plaintiffs and other residents suffered property damage and seek to hold the government and timber companies responsible, including the B.C. Ministry of Forests, ands and Natural Resource Operations, along with Interfor Corporation, Weyerhaeuser Company, Tolko Industries, Nk’Mip Forestry Corporation, Osoyoos Indian Band Development Corporation, and Mercer Celgar Pulp.

Grand Forks Flood Event

At the time, CTV News reported that the May 2018 Grand Forks flood was the worst the community had seen in 70 years. Residents reportedly saw water two feet higher than ever recorded. At the time, residents were forced to evacuate.

In addition to major flooding occurring between May 8 and 11, the region was reportedly told to brace for more as historically high temperatures melted more snowpack.

“There is some fear, with the warm weather,” a representative from a disaster relief centre told CTV reporters. “They’re not sure what’s going to happen in the next few days. Is [the] snowpack going to melt? Are the rivers going to rise again?”

Residents Say Overharvest Caused 2018 Flooding Event

The residents who filed the proposed class action lawsuit say that the Grand Forks 2018 flooding event and others were caused by mismanagement of the water basin.

“The flood waters that caused the Grand Forks flooding had emanated from the Defendants’ land,” points out the complaint. “It is a direct result of the overharvesting cutblocks by the Defendants at mid to high elevations, including the cutblocks sold by BCTS for harvesting in the Kettle River basin. The overharvesting of timber by the Defendants and the sales of cutblocks by [British Columbia Timber Sales (BCTS)] have changed the natural flood cycle in the Kettle River basin to permanently increase the frequency, duration and magnitude of peak flows of flooding events in and around the town of Grand Forks.”

Area Will Face Continued Major Flooding

According to the class action lawsuit, residents of the area face continued flooding events because of the mismanagement of the forest combined with higher summer temperatures.

People walking in flooded street regarding the Grand Forks flood class action lawsuitIndeed, the complaint points out that the area has since faced major floods in the summer months of 2020.

Timber Companies, Gov’t Should Pay Damages

The plaintiffs accuse both the British Columbia Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, as well as timber companies for damaging the forest and the watershed by overharvesting to create a situation where floods are inevitable and likely to be destructive. The mismanagement of the forests has also allegedly increased the severity of floods, including increased sedimentation and transport, and increased water quantity.

Further, the timber harvest increased the likelihood that the flow from these major flooding events would funnel to populated areas, contends the complaint.

The Grand Forks flooding class action lawsuit seeks to represent those who live in and around Grand Forks, B.C, who suffered property or other damage in the May 2018 flood. The plaintiffs are seeking compensation for property damages as well as repair and loss of use, along with damage to personal property and physical injuries. Further, the plaintiffs say that they and their proposed Class suffered mental, emotional, and psychological damage, as well as the loss of their community. They are also claiming damages for loss of income and loss of enjoyment of life.

Do you own property in Grand Forks that was affected by flooding? We want to hear from you! Tell us your story in the comment section below!

The lead plaintiffs and proposed Class Members are represented by Peter I. Waldmann of Peter I. Waldmann Law Corporation.

The Grand Forks Flooding Class Action Lawsuit is Massey, et al. v. Her Majesty the Queen in the Right of the Province of British Columbia, et al., Case No. VIC-S-S-202288, in the Supreme Court of British Columbia, Canada.

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