The South Okanagan flood watch gets started in earnest this morning as forecasted increases in river flows and water levels are starting to manifest.
The entire region is also subject to a special weather statement issued by Environment Canada.
The Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen is encouraging citizens whose properties and homes might be effected by localized flooding and ground water inundation to increase their vigilance and wrap up preparations.
In Osoyoos overnight, the lake’s level rose to 916.21 feet — as measured by the US Geological Survey at its Oroville, WA, station.
The lake’s level had fallen to 916.11 feet just before noon on May 15 after initially cresting at 916.45 feet on May 12.
Provincial agencies are continuing to monitor the lake’s level and preparing for Evacuation Orders if necessary.
The Regional District has also installed cameras in strategic locations along the Similkameen River to visually monitor water levels. It says the use of the cameras, bolstered by video captured by drones, has increased efficiencies and improved design and mitigation decisions.
The expected increase in water from the Similkameen and Okanagan rivers could be aggravated by a change in the weather, which has remained hot through the last week.
Showers and thunderstorms are expected over the next few days, with total rainfall amounts of between 20 and 40 mm to impact areas affected by overland flooding.
Environment Canada says the rain should begin falling in the Okanagan Valley this afternoon. Embedded thunderstorms and the continued risk of heavy downpours are possible.
Meanwhile, sandbagging and private property protection is being undertaken by local residents and agencies working to keep infrastructure operational. Sand and sandbags continue to be dispatched to centralized locations throughout the region for residents to access and protect their properties.
More than one million sandbags have been distributed to date.
The Town of Osoyoos is asking residents and visitors to:
- ensure that basement floor drains in current projected areas of flooding are covered to prevent additional water into the sewer system;
- disconnect all sump pumps that are connected to the Town sewer system immediately;
- on a community wide basis, take actions to minimize the unnecessary use of the sewer system;
- stay away from shoreline parks;
- stay away from all areas of the marina as they are closed;
- minimize travel into affected areas as people are working and we don’t need additional vehicle travel;
- secure docks and take responsibility for them if they do float away;
- travel slowly on the lake to avoid flooding and shoreline erosion;
- respect flaggers and detour routes that have been established;
- and let the town office know if you are aware of people who may be having difficulty through the flood event.
The Town is also allowing residents to dispose of lake debris collected from flood areas at the Osoyoos & District landfill at no charge. Flood materials removed from homes will be charged the demolition rate.
The entire Regional District is under a State of Local Emergency, which allows for mitigation works and access to additional resources. That has kept emergency workers hopping and looking for additional support from local residents.
The Regional District’s Emergency Support Services has adopted a strategy to ensure lives are protected by directing support workers to problem areas in the event evacuation orders are implemented.
In the Sportsman Bowl north of Oliver, BC Wildfire and construction crews are continuing flood mitigation efforts, including monitoring waterways and removing sediment and debris continues. Culverts recently installed to move water to the Okanagan River appear to be working well, the Regional District said.
Crews have also removed sediment, boulders and debris from ditches and channels in the Testalinden, Tinhorm and Hester Creek areas.
In the Similkameen region, evacuation Alerts remain in effect along the Similkameen River flood plain and for the Village of Keremeos and self-evacuations for those with conditions that require access to hospitals or ongoing treatments are encouraged. A local care home has relocated residents.
RCMP have plans to close roads and detour traffic if required.
Meanwhile, several dikes in the Cawston area on the Similkameen River have been bolstered and remediated. Chopaka bridge and all bridges and roadways are being monitored.