Flooding can’t sink spirits in Osoyoos

By Dale Boyd
Special to OsoyoosToday

With flood waters flowing into multiple communities and evacuation orders coming in over the past two months, the Canadian spirit has proven unsinkable in the South Okanagan.

One might expect frustration or exasperation when talking to residents in Osoyoos, the latest South Okanagan community to be hit by high lake levels and the melt of the record high snow pack, but smiles, laughs, determination and community spirit are in abundance.

Robert Calder lives on Harbour Key Drive, but was not included in the evacuation order which saw the Coast Hotel and multiple Osoyoos residences evacuated Thursday. He was loading up the back seat of his sedan with sand bags Friday morning.

Mr. Calder was impressed by the amount of people helping out with around 50 BC Wildfire workers and volunteers at the sandbagging site on Main Street helping those effected by the flooding.

“It’s miraculous. It brings to tears for your eyes,” he said.

Volunteer Rick Unrau came down to help Friday morning and was loading sandbags with a smile.

“We load them until they say stop,” Mr. Unrau said.

Robyn Manuck and her family were evacuated from her Harbour Key Drive home Thursday night when Regional District Okanagan-Similkameen workers came to her door. The family just bought the house in September.

“They had turned off the sewer and water, so with the kids, we had to go,” she said. “Our house seems OK right now, but some neighbours are in a bit of trouble. It’s already at their basement and their house.”

She and her family were able to get emergency social assistance to find somewhere to stay. Luckily the hotel they are staying at is around the corner from her home, and they were allowed to bring their pets.

“We’ve got three nights, then, then I don’t know,” she said.

Her parents are in town as well, visiting Osoyoos for the first time, unfortunately their car is stuck in the flooded area.

“When I said I bought ‘on the lake,’ they didn’t think I meant literally,” she laughed. “Everyone is in good spirits, but it’s just like holy smokes. Two days ago I didn’t have a care in the world. Then we started sandbagging Wednesday night and it just kept coming and coming.”

Nancy Forster was among a group of volunteers behind the Holiday Inn on Main Street in Osoyoos Friday helping load in sandbags, which were then brought by canoe to the base of the back of the hotel.

“Yesterday we just filled bags all day and volunteers were coming to take them away to the homes,” she said.

She had a simple answer for why she was putting in long hours down the hill from her Anarchist Mountain home.

 “This is our town,” she said. “When the fires start people will be helping at our place.”

Dale Boyd is a reporter with the Penticton Herald. OsoyoosToday and the Herald share an informal editorial use agreement.


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