Cleanup after the storm

Dustin Godfrey

Strong preparation ahead of Tuesday night's storm saved Penticton from more significant damage, according to Fire Chief Larry Watkinson.

A heavy north wind overnight sent waves crashing into Penticton's shorelines, causing some damage to infrastructure along the lake and eroding some of the waterfront.

But the city and province stepped up the use of artificial barriers to try to mitigate that damage.

"We deployed approximately 18,000 sandbags (Tuesday), along with the tiger dams, which certainly improved our infrastructure challenge," Watkinson said. "We did see some damage, so we're out, back, re-armouring those areas that protected our city's infrastructures on the waterfront."

On top of the 18,000 in place before the storm, Watkinson says the city will have about 7,000 more sandbags in place to reinforce the existing barriers.

"Ultimately, I think that our plan mitigations, our flood mitigation plan has been successful," Watkinson said. "We are getting the resources, we're sandbagging consistently and constantly, and we have a good reservoir in stock, but it is for the city's infrastructure."

But with winds as high as they were overnight Tuesday, a cleanup is inevitable. That includes the bridge to the Japanese gardens, where concerns about debris floating down the creek brought firefighters a bit of extra work.

"They're basically using their tools to help the debris flow more readily underneath the bridge," Watkinson said. "Because with the water right up against the bridge, now, we're trying to avoid small pieces building up, so that if a big piece comes down, we won't be able to free it."

At the Penticton Yacht Club, an inflatable dam and thousands of sandbags are holding back water several inches above ground level. Vice commodore Darren Vipond says record water levels meant no immunity afforded by the breakwater.

"We've got a little bit of dock damage, not a lot. We fared fairly well; whether we can make the next one, since the water's so high, the waves are just coming straight into the basin," Vipond said, adding that the club was "just lucky" that it didn't suffer more damage.

"A lot of branches. There's actually, well if you look right out in this main waterway, you'll see a tree with a stump attached to it, floating right in the main waterway inside the marina," he added, pointing to some debris in the marina.

Summerland, too, has seen its share of washed out shorelines. Video submitted to Castanet shows the tide engulfing entire beaches, and park benches well beyond the water line.


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