Firefighters with the Town of Osoyoos Fire Department visited Osoyoos Lake properties Wednesday evening, handing out notices of an evacuation alert as the lake’s water level continues to rise.
So far, though, there’s no threat to the community beyond those properties along the waterfront, where the lake was starting to lap at lawns and retaining walls.
The action follows a declaration of a local state of emergency in the community and the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen’s Area “A.”
“We needed to be able to pull on provincial resources and the only way to do that is to declare a local state of emergency,” explained Mike Campol, the community’s acting mayor.
He added there’s no threat to life or health, provided residents act responsibly along the waterfront.
The decision to declare the state of emergency was based on the “escalation of the water levels overnight, the rain and the temperatures coming,” Mr. Campol said.
“We were at 915.08 (Wednesday) morning, knowing it was going to breach 916 (feet) — which was well above where we were last year,” he said.
As of about 6 a.m. Thursday morning, the lake was at 915.63 feet, as measured at the US Geological Survey’s Oroville station.
The short-term forecast for the community is for rain Thursday, with soaring temperatures — as high as 30 — through the weekend.
The high pressure ridge settling over the province and bringing the soaring temperatures is expected to accelerate the melting of a snowpack accumulation above 200 percent and put even more water into flooded and overwhelmed rivers and tributaries.
“Hopefully we’ll now have access to drones that we can use to see live-time what’s happening as far as lake levels breaching properties and also have Forestry (workers) come in and assist.”
Mr. Campol is encouraging Osoyoos residents to help out where they can in the community.
“We all know our demographic in the community is elderly,” he said. “We’re asking able-bodied people willing to help out with sandbagging.
“We have a fair amount of local volunteers out there today filling sandbags so people can just pick them up. But we could use more help.”
Volunteers wishing to help, can contact the Town of Osoyoos office at 250-495-6515 or the Emergency Operations Centre at 250-490-4225.