With increasingly warmer temperatures on the way, in addition to more rain in the forecast, the North Okanagan Emergency Management team is urging residents to be prepared.
“If you live near any body of water, whether it be a creek, stream, river or lake it doesn’t matter. If you live near water you must know that at some point (the water level) is going to come up,” says NOEM Deputy Emergency Manager Helen Sinclair.
She says 'freshet season', or the spring runoff flooding season, typically lasts until the beginning of July and there is a lot of time for things to go bad between now and then.
“If you live near water you are responsible for protecting your property. You just have to know it is going to happen at some point. Maybe this year, maybe next year, maybe this year and next year, we just don't know,” she adds.
Sinclair and her team are asking all those residents living in flood prone areas to take any and all precautions, long before their properties are impacted.
“We do not have a crystal ball. We cannot say that tonight, or overnight there is going to be a debris slide,” says Sinclair.
“All we can do is take steps to help people prepare. We put out the sand and the sandbags. We remind people that if they have a culvert that is not holding the water to phone the Ministry of Transportation, the Regional District, be prepared.”
She says on top of sandbagging and preparing your property, you should also make arrangements to move livestock to higher ground and move any hazardous materials such as farm chemicals, oil and petroleum products away from where the water could reach them.
“You cannot stop the flooding, but if it is going to flood and impact you and your family, pets and livestock, have a plan so you lessen the impact that the emergency has on you,” said Sinclair.
She also says that if your are not sure what you can do to protect yourself, reach out and call agencies for help.
“Call the regional district, call the public works departments, call us. The best thing I can say is be proactive.”
The recent flooding and landslide in the North Okanagan is still under investigation but Sinclair says natural causes like a beaver dam are being rumoured. Something she says may have been seen by an observant hiker, but unfortunately unreported.
“There are people out there that hike up in those hills, in the mountains, all the time because it is in their passion. If they come across something like this and see it, they should definitely call into the emergency coordination line and say, 'this is where I was and this is what I saw',” says Sinclair.
“Unless someone sees it, how are we to know?”
If you see a potential hazard or flooding risk call the Provincial Emergency Coordination Centre at 1-800-663-3456.
All current information regarding emergency conditions and resources are available on the North Okanagan Emergency Management website at northokanaganem.ca.
For information on how to prepare your property, visit http://embc.gov.bc.ca/em/floods/preparedness.html.
Sand and sandbags are provided in various locations in the North Okanagan for your use:
- Armstrong – sand and sand bags located at Public Works yard 2950 Patterson Ave.
- For after hours, call 250-546-3023
- Coldstream – sand and sand bags located at 2 locations:
- Kalamalka Rd, across from Postill Drive.
- Lavington Area – School Road across from Jeffers Park.
- For after hours, call 250-545-5304
- Enderby - sand and sand bags located at the Public Works yard 2309 McGowan St.
- For after hours, call 250-838-7230
- Lumby - sand and sand bags located in gravel parking lot 2230 Shields Ave. across from Lumby Arena/Curling Rink.
- For after hours, call 250-547-2160
- Spallumcheen – sand and sand bags located outside gate of Public Works yard located at 1511 Eagle Rock Rd.
- For after hours, call 250-546-3013
- Vernon - sand and sandbags located at 2 locations:
- Vernon City Yards – outside main gate on Pleasant Valley Road.
- Corner of Okanagan Ave. and Okanagan Landing Rd.
- For after hours, call 250-542-5361