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Flooding 2017  

A 102-day emergency

It's been 102 days – and counting. That's how long the Central Okanagan Emergency Operations Centre has been up and running since floods first hit the region in early May.

Kelowna Coun. Luke Stack, sitting in as acting mayor Monday, took the opportunity to thank those who have put in time at the EOC to ensure residents are safe.

"They have been doing double duty, as many have been seconded from their regular daily work to take on additional responsibility within the EOC," said Stack. "These folks, for those who don't know, are doing their regular job, and manning the Emergency Operations Centre."

The EOC was activated on May 5 after heavy rains the night before, combined with snowmelt, caused massive flooding throughout the region.

The centre also pulled double duty last month after a wildfire in Okanagan Centre displaced hundreds and destroyed eight homes.

Kelowna city manager Ron Mattiussi, who helps oversee the centre, says the real story within those walls is the fact it's been a regional approach.

"If you walked into the EOC on any given day, there would be a communication person from Kelowna, or Westbank First Nation, or West Kelowna and an engineer from Peachland," said Mattiussi.

"It really was the strength that we could call upon the whole region, and the whole region responded by sending people who were pretty busy, to fill in."

Stack said everyone looks forward to the day when the EOC can be decommissioned, "and our lives can return to normal."

While the flood danger has passed, the EOC will remain operational until cleanup is complete.



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Last call for sandbags

It's last call for sandbag removal in the Central Okanagan.

The majority of flood response sandbags have been removed from public and private property, and regional recovery operations will wrap up Aug. 25.

Crews are completing the last of the pickups, with some areas like West Kelowna already finished.

Residents are responsible for any final sandbag removal on their own property. Drop off locations are now closed, and separated sand and sandbags can be returned to the Glenmore landfill in Kelowna. Sand will be accepted free of charge, and the empty sandbags charged regular tipping fees.

Under no circumstances should sandbags be emptied into creeks, lakes, wetland, beaches or other watercourses. 

If sandbags on private property have been missed by pickup crews, call the flood recovery line at 250-470-0674.  

Residents dealing with sandbags on their own property should take precautions when working around stagnant water. Sandbags that have been sitting in water can contain mould. Residents should wear N95 respirators, nitrile gloves and rubber boots, and should thoroughly wash hands and clothes after handling the bags.

Meanwhile, debris removal is ongoing, with four barge crews on Okanagan Lake. Removals will continue along the shoreline in Kelowna from the Mission area toward the W. R. Bennett Bridge. Additional crews will be working along north Westside Road as well as Peachland and West Kelowna.

The collection of broken docks, unregistered boats, garbage and barrels is expected to continue for several weeks. Damaged docks and pilings still in place are the responsibility of the property owner.

Any debris that residents do not want removed should be clearly marked with “Do Not Remove”, so crews know to leave it behind. 



Walkway partially reopens

A portion of the Gellatly walkway in West Kelowna will reopen for the long weekend.

The city announced Friday construction is now complete on the portion of the walkway between Willow Beach, adjacent to the West Kelowna Yacht Club, and the CN Wharf.

Beginning Tuesday, the portion of the trail from the wharf to Rotary Beach, including the trail adjacent to the dog beach, will be closed for repairs.

Motorists may also encounter some delays on Gellatly Road during this second phase of construction.

The walkway was closed June 1 for repairs to damage caused by historically high levels of Okanagan Lake.





Lake falls below full pool

Nearly two months after it crested in early June, Okanagan Lake finally fell below full pool over the weekend.

The magic number 342.480 metres above sea level is the upper end of the lake's "normal" operating range.

As of Tuesday morning, the lake was nearly six centimetres below that mark, 342.435 metres above sea level.

Shaun Reimer, head of public safety and protection for the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, who operates lake flow from the Penticton dam, said last week he will continue to bring the lake level down at about the pace it has been for the next few weeks.

Okanagan Lake remains higher than it normally would be this time of year, however, it is now well below the flood danger level.

Reimer says the latest readings indicate Okanagan Lake remains about 19 centimetres higher than its normal level for the beginning of August, while Kalamalka Lake is about 17 centimetres above that mark.

"Because we have been so dry, we should be able to get back on track in the fall," he said.

With very few exceptions, all waterfront beaches, parks and walkways are open again.

Some do remain closed for repairs to damage caused by this spring's flooding.

Check local municipal and regional district websites for the latest on waterfront access, and follow the rise and fall of the lake on our daily updated lake level graph page.



Massive dock rebuild awaits

The province is coming to the aid of Okanagan waterfront property owners who need to repair or replace docks damaged by spring floods.

An estimated 1,200 docks on Okanagan Lake were damaged or destroyed by the high water.

To help speed up the approval process, FrontCounter BC has set up a temporary office in Kelowna.

It will remain in place until at least the end of October in the Ministry of Agriculture building on Powick Road. It will be open Tuesday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to noon, and 1 to 4:30 p.m.

Staff will be able to answer questions about permits and assist with the application process. Information on approvals is also available at 1-877-855-3222.

At the same time, the government reminds people that all structures must be constructed on their own property. That means above the natural boundary or normal high-water mark.

They must not build on Crown land fronting their property below the natural boundary.

For years, people in the Okanagan have complained some structures along the foreshore have impeded their legal right to access the lakefront.

Unauthorized structures (e.g., fences, retaining walls) and fill located below the natural boundary will not be allowed to be rebuilt. 



Sandbag cleanup underway

The Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen is releasing a schedule for sandbag cleanup outside of municipalities.

The district will be removing sandbags and flood debris from rural and residential lots, local First Nations lands, and the Crown foreshore. The provincial government will be footing the bill for the cleanup, which is also already underway in Penticton.

“All you have to do is register and a strong labour force will come and remove them for you,” reads a media release from the RDOS.

A registration for is available online or at the RDOS Main Office, 101 Martin St, Penticton. You can submit them back to RDOS Emergency Operations Centre at [email protected] or the main offices.

The staged tentative schedule below:

  • Osoyoos Lake – July 25 to July 28 
  • Naramata – July 31 to August 4
  • Rural Summerland – August 7 to August 9
  • Red Wing - August 9 to 11

Any stockpiled sand remaining in neighbourhoods is free for the taking. It just must not end up in the lake or in any water bodies, as it is not natural to waterways.

The RDOS is also helping to remove unsecured unnatural flood debris like dock fragments, floats as a result of high water. The consent form covers both sandbags and dock debris.       

  • Okanagan Lake East Shoreline – July 31 to August 4
  • Okanagan Lake West Shoreline. August 7 to August 11


Almost back to normal

Once Okanagan Lake reaches full pool, beaches not already open are scheduled to do so, and normal lake activities will resume.

If the current pattern continues, and barring a major catastrophe, the magic "full pool" number should be reached by the weekend.

Readings Tuesday morning showed the lake level at 342.560 metres above sea level. That's eight centimetres lower than it was Friday, and eight cm above full pool, which is 342.480 metres above sea level.

Flooding across the Okanagan began May 7, when a massive spring storm, coupled with runoff from late-season snowfalls, caused the lake to rise to unprecedented levels.

Okanagan Lake crested the first week of June after reaching a level of 343.250 metres above sea level.

It's been steadily falling since.

For more than a month, crews have been steadily removing sandbags, bladder dams and gabion dams.

Large chunks of debris have been removed from the lake, beaches and waterfront parks.

Cleanup from the nearly three month event is continuing in some areas.

Some parks will remain closed while repairs are made.

The lake, which has resembled a ghost town on some weekends with a lack of boating activity, will be back to normal.

Track the rise and fall of the lake on our lake level graph page.



Lake nears normal level

Since Okanagan Lake reached historic highs back in early June, the level of the lake has fallen dramatically.

It's fallen 61 centimetres since reaching a high water mark of 343.250 metres above sea level on June 6.

As of 5:30 this morning, the level was pegged at 342.640. That's down 61 centimetres since June 6 and 6.8 centimetres since Tuesday morning at the same time.

That's 16 centimetres above what is considered normal full pool levels of 342.48 metres above sea level.

Kalamalka Lake in Vernon is also falling at a steady rate. The lake level this morning was pegged at 391.927 metres above sea level. That's a drop of 3.6 centimetres since Tuesday.

As the lake level drops, flood mitigation continues to be removed from beaches, lakefront parks and private property along the lakeshore.

In West Kelowna, most parks, beaches and boat launches are now open, except for a handful along Jennens and Whitworth roads. The Gellatly Walkway also remains closed.

Most waterfront parks and beaches in other areas around the Central Okanagan have also opened to the public.

In the North Okanagan, the Kalavista boat launch on Kalamalka Lake and Paddlewheel Park boat launch on Okanagan Lake reopen today.

Boaters are being cautioned to watch for debris in the water as a result of the recent flood and to reduce speeds near shore lines to respect those flood barriers still in place.



West Kelowna opens parks

The City of West Kelowna has opened up several parks that have been closed the past few months due to flood concerns.

Parks have opened as crews remove sandbags and other flood mitigation resources from those areas.

Those now open, include:

  • Paddlewheeler Park – Pritchard Drive
  • Pritchard Park – Pritchard Drive
  • Aberdeen Park – West Bay Road
  • Casa Loma Dock
  • Willow Beach – Gellatly Road
  • Marina Beach – Gellatly Road
  • Pebble Beach – Whitworth Road
  • CNR Wharf – Gellatly Road
  • Rotary Beach – Gellatly Road
  • Gellatly Landing Park – Gellatly Road
  • Casa Rio Park – Casa Rio Drive
  • John Dupuis (Casa Loma) Boat Launch – Casa Loma Road
  • Gellatly Boat Launch – Gellatly Road
  • Casa Loma Waterfront Access – Casa Loma Road (south)

Currently, sandbag removal is being undertaken in the Green Bay, Pritchard Drive and Gellatly Road/Whitworth Road areas of West Kelowna. Work will resume in Casa Loma early next week.

Residents who are undertaking their own sandbag removal on their property can assist by moving their bags to the roadside for pick up and disposal. Please separate burlap and polypropylene sandbags.

While numerous parks are open, a handful remain closed. These include:

  • Jennens Park – Jennens Road
  • Hitchner Park – Jennens Road
  • Gellatly Walkway – Gellatly Road
  • Beechnut Park – George Court
  • Hazelnut Park – Whitworth Road
  • Heartnut Park – Whitworth Road


Lake continues steady fall

As cleanup efforts continue along the shores of Okanagan Lake, the level of the lake continues its steady fall.

The lake receded another 1.5 centimetres over the past 24 hours. It now sits at 342.804 metres above sea level.

That's still about 32 centimetres above full pool.

North in Kalamalka Lake, the level dropped 2.2 centimetres to a level of 392.053 metres above sea level.

While the level dips, efforts continue to remove large pieces of debris left behind by the massive surge of water seen earlier this spring.

A barge will be in the Lake Country area today removing large chunks of unnatural debris such as pieces from broken docks, garbage, trees and stumps.

The barge will make its way to the Westside Road area Friday.

A separate contractor will begin a similar process along Wood and Kalamalka lakes next week.

Property owners along the waterfront are reminded they are responsible for the collection of small pieces of debris from their property.

Those pieces can be placed in yard waste bins for collection, as long as they meet the yard waste criteria.

Sandbags no longer required for flood mitigation can be left at the end of driveways for pickup.

Click here for more information concerning flood mitigation and debris removal.



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