We can't fight the lake

A disaster continues to unfold at Head of the Lake on Okanagan Indian Band land in the North Okanagan, as lake water creeps into homes and washes away roads.

A total of 220 residences, including permanent and seasonal homes, are on evacuation order.

“We've been on evacuation order since May 23, but we didn't leave right away,” said Debbie Helgason, who lives on the Louis Estates but is now billeted with a friend.

Unlike some, Helgason and her husband's home sits on a concrete pad without a crawl space and the water is now inside and climbing.

“My house is in four inches of water...It started seeping into the sunroom and now it is in the whole house.”

The couple fought the water as long as possible, using sandbags to keep it at bay. Their house is not situated on beachfront and actually sits behind another house with lake access, but Helgason said water is also coming out of the ground.

Even with the evacuation order in place, some people appear to have remained in their residences or continue to return.

“People are still struggling to fight the lake. They're pumping water and trying to keep it out of their houses.”

Helgason said some septic fields have been compromised.

The OKIB has issued repeated warnings to people to stay out of the flood water and not to consume it.

“Flood water is dangerous, disgusting and filthy dirty,” said an information release from the band issued May 27. “It can be riddled with potentially life-threatening hazard.”

Helgason praised the Louis Estates' landlord who's been aiding residents with their fight.

“He's been great. He's been helping everybody to try to save their homes. It's beyond that now. We can't fight the lake.”

Residents in her area can no longer drive to their homes as the road is covered by the lake. The only way now is to park above the area and walk through lake water, she said.

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