Princeton stuck in a 'fragile situation' rushing to get flood repairs done before rain and snow come down

Town in a 'fragile situation'

The town of Princeton is racing against the clock, with limited time and resources to stabilize their area's infrastructure before rain and snow come down.

Mayor Spencer Coyne called it a ‘fragile situation’.

After the flood that came through Sunday night and into Monday morning tore through the town’s dikes and destroyed homes, the area can’t handle anything that would put pressure on the river.

“I'll be extremely blunt, I am really worried about next week . I know it's not a huge amount of rain, but it can be a huge issue for us. Because like I said, if it rains high, we will have flooding and we don't have dikes in place to protect us.”

While the water system is back on for some, the entire northern part of town is being serviced by two fire hoses that are connected from fire hydrant to fire hydrant.

“Our water system is limping. We've lost all four of our north crossings for our water system under the river. We're waiting for approvals from the province to fix them,” Coyne explained.

“Everything is down to time and money right now.”

FortisBC received permission from the province to come in and start working on turning gas and heat back on for the area on Thursday, which Coyne added he is hearing that it’s coming back on for some residents.

“Which is a blessing because we need that heat. We were still leaning heavily on industry to help us get through this.”

Coyne is looking ahead to the next few weeks, hoping to get ahead of the colder December temperatures to come.

“If we don't have people being able to heat their buildings and the water situation sorted out, we can see broken pipes. Broken pipes means more damage, more damage means more issues.

“We're trying to beat mother nature here and we're trying to beat the clock on it and the rain next week isn't gonna help. It's going to make everything icy and more complicated. So we're really hoping we get approvals on some things.”

One company from Penticton has sent out extra crews to the Princeton area, to make sure if they need help lighting pilot lights or trying to get their furnaces up and running, they’re available.

G. Little Electric is dedicating their service techs to Princeton, Hedley, Keremeos, and Lower Similkameen for flood relief efforts, putting hold on other work temporarily for the emergency situations.

“If anybody that's out there, if they see us and they need help, let us know. The guys are working longer hours to try and help out as many people as they can,” Aaron Yazlovasky, President of G. Little Electric shared.

Some residents have been allowed to return to their homes, just to clean out garbage and damaged items from the flooding.

“We are going to try to organize manpower to go in and help people remove heavy items on Monday so that Tuesday, we can try to get trucks in to remove the garbage from the street,” Coyne said.

The Town will be posting these plans on their Facebook page when they are finalized, for anyone looking to volunteer to help move out items.

Now that Highway 3 has been reopened for essential travel only, the town is seeing increased volume of traffic come through.

“I really want to stress to people who are going to travel through Hope-Princeton and into this area to be cautious. Take your time. Do not try to pass when you don't need to and just be courteous. It's freezing weather here. Roads are icy and crews are trying to keep up with everything.”

The town is working with Community Foundation of the South Okanagan Similkameen for the "Princeton Flood Relief Fund" to provide a conduit for donors to send their money to town, which can be found online here.

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