It’s namesake lake lapping at its edges, the community of Osoyoos dug in Thursday to protect property and infrastructure.
“I’m thrilled, but I’m not surprised,” said Coun. Mike Campol, the community’s acting mayor, as he visited the community’s boat trailer parking lot on Hwy. 3, now a makeshift sandbagging camp. “This community has always done that.
About three dozen volunteers were onsite this afternoon — their ranks reinforced by provincial Forestry workers detailed to Osoyoos after a state of emergency was declared Wednesday.
The mission was simple: fill sandbags.
“People could easily just stay home and stay dry, but they all want to help out,” said Coun. Campol.
The foe has proven to be relentless, Osoyoos Lake rising on average nine inches more each day and showing no sign of slowing its progress.
As of 5 p.m Thursday, the lake’s level was at 915.93 feet — as measured by the US Geological Survey at its Oroville station — well above where the lake crested during flooding in 2017.
“I think we’re in a fairly unprecedented area right now,” said Coun. Campol. “We’re above levels we’ve seen in more modern times. We also have high temperatures coming up and some significant snowpack.”
The work Thursday follows a similar effort Tuesday when about 40 Osoyoos Secondary students stepped away from classroom work to spend several hours in the sand pit, filling bags for use on flood-threatened properties.
Some of those ended up at the home of Carol and Larry Boan, who expressed their gratitude for the students’ help.
Thursday afternoon, they along with 22 neighbours on Harbour Key Drive and Solana Court and 17 more in the Willow Beach area were told they would have to leave their homes.
Other properties around the lake were visited overnight Wednesday and placed on evacuation alert.
The Town has set up a reception centre at the Sonora Community Centre.
“Board members have set up a number of stalls with fresh bedding and I understand some horses have arrived over the past couple of days,” said society president Bruce Fuller.
“There is no charge for taking in horses. The only thing we ask is that owners take care of their own horses.”
The community is not the only marker on the 2018 flooding map.
In the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen, evacuation orders are in place for properties in or near Keremeos, Okanagan Falls, the Sportsmen Bowl-Park Rill area north of Oliver and Tulameen north of Princeton.
Evacuation alerts are in place for many other properties and much of the Regional District is under a state of emergency.
Hwy. 3 is closed indefinitely 14 km west of Keremeos, due to the Similkameen River spilling onto it.
Motorists are being advised to detour to the Okanagan Connector south of Kelowna.
Elsewhere in the Southern Interior, evacuation orders were issued Thursday for approximately 1,500 properties in the Grand Forks area due to high water in the Kettle, West Kettle and Granby rivers.
The provincial government is also encouraging local governments and First Nations communities along the lower Fraser River to prepare for potential flooding, due to increased snowmelt and higher-than-normal temperatures.
Currently, the provincial Emergency Coordination Centre is activated to support emergency efforts in the Cariboo, Boundary and Okanagan regions.
In Osoyoos, volunteers who can support local efforts, are encouraged to call the Town of Osoyoos office at 250-495-6515 or the Emergency Operations Centre at 250-490-4225.