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Flood watch continues in BC's southern Interior


Water levels rose quickly in Kimberley, BC
Water levels rose quickly in Kimberley, BC

Staff writers

April 29, 2012 — Conditions are improving across BC's southern Interior, but emergency officials continue to keep a close eye on river levels.

City crews in Kimberley have been busy sandbagging
City crews in Kimberley have been busy sandbagging

On Sunday, the flash flood risk in BC's Okanagan was eased enough to lift an evacuation order in the Naramata area, but high water levels still have many people on alert throughout the southern Interior.

Water levels above a dam in Naramata have dropped about 30 cm since Friday, when the evacuation notice was issued for 46 homes.

Parts of BC's southern Interior saw a record snowpack this past winter. That, combined with heavy rain that's been falling this week, has raised the flood concern in several communities.

The BC river forecast issued a high streamflow advisory for the south Interior but that has since been dropped, thanks to cooler temperatures that helped to slow snow melt rates.

Despite the cold, river water levels are still high in many areas. 

West Kelowna

On Wednesday, a breached dike in West Kelowna prompted a local state of emergency. Four homes were flooded after rising waters in McDougall Creek started to push over the banks.

Water levels began to recede on Thursday and a crew of about 20 firefighters worked to repair the dike.

Kimberley

An evacuation alert was issued in Kimberley on Wednesday after the Kimberley Creek flooded its banks.

Mayor Ron McRae says the city took action when there were signs of water levels rising.

"We were monitoring creeks flowing into the area, and determined that we would need to put some emergency measures in place because there was the possibility that the water would rise very quickly," McRae told The Weather Network. "That in fact did happen as we progressed through Tuesday and into Wednesday morning, and early Wednesday morning we got a surge of water that created some real problems for us."

About 50 homes in the community suffered some sort of water damage.

"The city moved very quickly to do some trenching to direct the water flows into an area where we could then send the water into the storm water collection system," explains McRae. "We also placed a significant diking along one of the main streets, to direct the water accordingly."

Over 10,000 sandbags have already been laid out and city officials, along with a group of volunteers, are filling an additional 3,000 sandbags in the event of an emergency.

A resident canoes through the town of Tulameen, BC
A resident canoes through the town of Tulameen, BC

Tulameen

The entire town of Tulameen, north of Princeton, was also put on evacuation alert after water levels in Otter Lake rose quickly Wednesday night.

Some water spilled onto waterfront properties affecting the popular recreational area there.

All 272 homes in the community were at risk and more than 80 buildings have been damaged. Many home owners experienced basement flooding and for some, water even moved onto the main floor.

"We've got massive flooding everywhere and extensive structural damage to a lot of these homes," Aaron Hough, Building Official for the Regional District of the Okanagan, told The Weather Network on Saturday. "Hopefully the waters don't rise and affect more."

"The water is actually receding right now which is a good thing, it's probably down 10 or 12 inches (30 cm)," says Tulameen homeowner Remma Maddaloza. "My guess is that the worst is over if we can these cool temperatures for another two or three days."

Officials are also concerned that fuel and other contaminants may have spilled into the water, but say it's still too early to tell.

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