Flood threatens family business
Jun 8, 2012 / 2:00 pm
The Tolt Away Icelandic Horse Farm sits tucked away in an idyllic setting on the edge of Ashton Cooke Road in Enderby. To the south lies the Shuswap River, but far enough away that Erhard Marenbach generally doesn't worry about flooding on their property.
Earlier this week, the BC River Forecast Centre put a flood watch in effect for the Shuswap River, along with Eagle River, Sicamous and the surrounding tributaries. That watch ended Friday morning.
"I have never seen something like this. You never expect this to happen in your own backyard," says Marenbach.
One of those tributaries runs nearby the Marenbach property. It serves as a feeder creek which collects runoff from rain falling on the hillside and funnels it down to the Shuswap.
On Wednesday, Erhard and his wife Iris were at their Kelowna based business when they received a disturbing call from an employee who told them the creek was starting to overflow and the situation was getting out of hand.
"At 5:30 we got a call saying you better come home," says Marenbach.
By then, the creek had already flooded a culvert and some fields.
"When we came home at 7 o'clock, I went to the creek and there I saw the entire disaster. We have a 250 metre oval track for competition for our horses. There was a big stream running across, bringing all kinds of debris, truckloads of rocks and flooding everything. On the south end it took the embankment away and took part of the announcer booth down."
According to Marenbach, in spite of recent heavy rains, there was no warning that something like this would happen.
"Yesterday we had the forestry guys out here. Above our property there's a forestry road and apparently the culverts up there are completely washed out. This fellow's assumption was that culvert got plugged and worked as a dam. All of a sudden that breaks and then this huge amount of water comes down and brings with it rocks, mud, sand, you name it."
The damage means the Marenbachs will lose a big portion of their business before the fields and training areas can be repaired and made safe for riding. The losses could be well over $50,000 and there is no insurance for this type of loss.
With no help on the horizon, Marenbach spent most of Thursday digging with an excavator to help redirect the flooding waters back into the creek and away from his fields.
Marenbach says the only way to recoup their losses would be if they can prove the floods were man made and not a natural disaster.
On Thursday, Iris Marenbach took one of her horses to see the road and survey the damage, because the route is now impassable by car. She reported back that the road is washed out and a number of culverts are gone.
By Friday morning, Erhard had bridged the flood waters between his two fields so he could safely get to the animals they care for which had been cutoff by the floods. He would have done more repair work but instead was back inside.
"I just came in and it's pouring rain."
Read more North Okanagan News
- Waters expected to rise in the Shuswap May 21
- Tale of an 'un-happy' happy face May 21
- Trampled stampede rider in hospital May 21
- Arrested after scuffle with cops May 21
- Flood protection May 21