Flooding closes Hwy 3

Colton Davies

UPDATE: 9:35 p.m.

The swollen Similkameen River has forced the closure of the Crowsnest Highway, 14 kilometres west of Keremeos, according to DriveBC.

Detours for motorists are available from Highway 5A to the Okanagan Connector from Princeton, or from Highway 3A to Highway 97 in Keremeos.

There's no estimate on when the highway could reopen, and another update is expected at 8 a.m. on Thursday.

The section of highway has been dealing with floodwater coming from the river since Tuesday.

ORIGINAL: 3 p.m.

Communities along the Similkameen River are bracing for impact as the river continues to rise at an alarming pace.

According to federal data, the water level has increased by about four-and-a-half feet in the past seven days — which has caused major issues in some places.

Flooding from the river began to spill into the Lower Similkameen Indian Band on Monday, and later in the day the band declared a local state of emergency and evacuated two homes.

A small bridge on Chopaka Road, the only road that connects the reserve to the rest of the region, is in danger of being compromised as it gets smacked with high flood waters.

"The emergency if the small bridge did go is that we'd have to evacuate people out of the States. We do have a road that connects down," LSIB Chief Keith Crow said.

"We'd have to work out an agreement with people on the U.S. side to get our people out, because it would be the only way to get out."

Crow added Argo and the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure are monitoring the bridge every six hours.

Further upstream, runoff from the river is threatening many areas including a section of Highway 3 between Hedley and Keremeos.

Steps away from that section of highway, the Riverside RV Park has been told by the Regional District Okanagan Similkameen to get ready for a potential evacuation.

"I've got people who have been in this park since 2005 when it became a park and its never flooded," Jodi-Anne Anderson said, president of the park's board of directors.

"If this floods this year like they said, it'll be the first time since 1972. And I know people in Keremeos that have said that was terrible."  

With some rain still in the forecast this week, weather experts are expecting water levels in the river to crest on Friday.

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