Town wants to talk flooding,
next steps with Osoyoos residents

Flooding along Lakeshore Drive yesterday evening. (Trud Burrell photo/Facebook)

The Town of Osoyoos has scheduled a flood information meeting for Tuesday evening.

The session, to be held at the Sonora Community Centre beginning at 6:30 p.m., will allow local residents and others to get accurate information about the current flood situation “right from the horse’s mouth.”

“When you don’t do something like this, you get information that says that people are closing dams around you, that you’re shutting down bridges and we’re all going to die,” said the Town’s acting mayor Mike Campol.

“So, I think it’s important that we give the public the right information, right from the horse’s mouth, that they can ask any question that they want and we’ll have the right people there to answer them.”

Representatives from the Town, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen and its Emergency Operations Centre, along with representatives from the Province are scheduled to attend.

The event is open to the public and media.

The information session comes as the community enjoys a lull in flooding activity. Cooler temperatures late last week — and into the weekend — have slowed the snowpack melt and release of water into rivers feeding Osoyoos Lake.

 

That has dropped the lake’s level to 916.26 feet — as measured at the US Geological Survey’s Oroville station — from its peak at 916.42 yesterday morning.

Similarly, the Similkameen River has dropped to to a gauge height of 13.35 feet — below flooding level — from a high of 15.5 feet on May 10.

Those watching the event expect the Similkameen will begin to swell again early this week and the lake will begin rising a day or two later..

“Potentially, we’ll have a lull here for a day or two,” said Mr. Campol. “But we do know by the middle of next week we might have a whole new set of challenges. We want to utilize this time to look at areas of concern.

“What we’re hearing is Wednesday-Thursday — probably Thursday — we could still see another significant increase in lake level.”

The maximum level of Osoyoos Lake recorded since regulation through the use of the Zosel Dam was 917.11 feet in June 1972.

Friday, Shaun Reimer, Emergency Management BC’s section head of Public Safety and Protection in the Thompson Okanagan, said he believes the lake will exceed 917 feet but added how far it could rise above that is somewhat up to Mother Nature.

The Town said Mr. Campol is taking advantage of the brief respite — as well as a coordinated effort now in place in the community involving municipal, regional and provincial resources — to prepare for higher water later this week.

“That’s the focus right now, preparing for that,” he said. “We’ve protecting all the infrastructure for where the lake level is right now, now we’re taking it to the next level to where it could go.”

The Acting Mayor said the community is “almost overwhelmed” by the effort of the local community to help in the fight to keep their Town safe.

“And it’s everybody: McDonalds, Dairy Queen, Boston Pizza, Sage Pub,. the grocery stores, the hardware stores with water,” he said. “It’s been non-stop. And then just people bringing veggie platters that they’re making at home.

“People we’re showing up all day with pickup trucks and asking, ‘do you need me to take sand anywhere?’

“The number of boots on the ground, from the forestry works to people filling sandbags, it’s overwhelming almost.”

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