Spring floods churn up neighbourhoods around Kelowna
Standing directly across from Winn Automotive on Enterprise Way Monday morning, one could watch the ducks leisurely basking in the heat as Mill Creek gurgled toward the road.
On any other day, this would be a grassy boulevard.
After a deluge of wind and rain rocked the Okanagan over the weekend, though, the creek crested the bank, threatening to swallow the road until fire crews arrived with sandbags at 3 a.m. Sunday morning.
"We're concerned," said Bruce Winn, Winn Automotive owner. "Even with the warmer weather. This kind of heat isn't always a good thing."
Whether the snap from 10 C on Saturday to 26 C Monday melts the snowpack even faster, causing more flooding, is uncertain; but a good deal of damage had already been done by early week.
Totom Storage and two other manufacturing businesses on Totom Court flooded, and crews were working hard to clear the lake shore at places like Rotary Beach and Gyro Beach of debris.
"This is actually really great for me," said Carlos Barbosa, an ocean shell modelling artist walking the water's edge at Gyro Beach Monday afternoon.
Picking up bark to turn into sculptures, he noted the water was churning up forest treasures he might not otherwise get his hands on—though it would mean hours of beach cleanup for city crews.
Over the 24 hours preceding his scavenging excursion, some 5000 sandbags were distributed to property owners along both Mill Creek and Misson Creek.
Flow in Mission Creek peaked at 90 cubic metres of water per second—close to the all time high. At that rate an Olympic-sized swimming pool would fill in less than half a minute.
As such, residents of of Radant Road, near Lakeshore Road, were sandbagging all weekend. A new dike in the area was said to be performing well, protecting several homes and businesses from flooding; although, Bulman Road had to be closed to the public and sandbagging was still underway.
Businesses on Adams Road and Commerce Avenue were on alert and there was some threat of field saturation at the Kelowna International Airport as of press time.
Both Short's Creek, on the Fintry Delta, and Dave's Creek, in the Central Okanagan East Electoral Area, were also on alert; Okanagan Lake, though at full pool, was not expected to peak until next week.
Anyone noticing flooding is being asked to call Regional Fire Dispatch at 250-469-8801.
Truckloads of sand delivered to combat flooding
The Central Okanagan Regional Emergency Program has been active on several fronts over the weekend as last week's rainfall has cause localized flooding problems.
More than 5,000 sandbags have been distributed to local property owners and four truckloads of sand has been delivered to four areas that have been impacted by flood waters from Mill and Mission creeks. Crews continue to monitor all area creeks, dykes and bridges/structures over the water courses for potential debris issues that might cause flooding.
The flow of Mission Creek has decreased slightly from its earlier peak of 90 cubic metres per second, which is close to the all-time peak flow for the creek. At that flow rate, an Olympic-sized swimming pool would fill in less than 30 seconds.
The B.C. River Forecast Centre expects Mission Creek water levels and flows to remain high over the next few days and could be impacted by further snow melt at the higher elevations as temperatures return to seasonal values.
In the area of Lakeshore Road bridge, near Radant Road, property owners have been sandbagging to protect their properties from the creek.
City of Kelowna crews have been removing debris from the creek at the bridge to protect against damage to the structure and prevent any potential flooding from backed up debris.
The new dyke installed along the creek earlier this year southeast of the bridge is performing well and has protected several homes and businesses from flooding.
Mill Creek, which continues to rise as a result of the recent rainfall, has seen localized flooding in the Bulman Road, Totom Road and Adams Road areas. Sandbagging has taken place at Bulman Road, which remains closed with flaggers in place to redirect any traffic around the flooded section. Crews continue to monitor a sewer lift station in the area.
Mill Creek also overflowed its banks in the Enterprise Way and Commerce Avenue area; however, sandbagging by City of Kelowna crews kept waters from flooding Enterprise Way.
Kelowna International Airport has seen some field saturation and isolated flooding in the long-term parking area as a result of the rising water in Mill Creek. Water is draining from the affected parking area today.
Within the Central Okanagan East Electoral Area, monitoring continues of Dave's Creek, which is experiencing high levels and flows and is impacting Goudie Road. Road contractors are addressing this issue.
In the Fintry Delta of the Central Okanagan West Electoral Area, an assessment is underway along Short's Creek due to an erosion concern and high creek flow.
Okanagan Lake remains below full pool, but depending on weather conditions is forecast to peak late this week or next weekend.
Information and pamphlets on flood preparedness including a recommended method for sandbag diking are available from the Regional District of Central Okanagan office (1450 KLO Road) and the main City of Kelowna fire hall on Enterprise Way as well as on the Regional Emergency Operation Centre website, www.cordemergency.ca and the Emergency Management B.C. website, pep.bc.ca/floods/preparedness.html.
Anyone noticing a potential problem or flooding concern in the Central Okanagan is asked to call the Regional Fire Dispatch at 250-469-8801. Sandbags are available at local fire halls for any property owners facing imminent danger from flooding.
At this time of year, Central Okanagan residents are asked to use caution around all local water bodies. People are reminded that water levels may rise unexpectedly and they and their pets should stay safely back from creek banks, which may be slippery or subject to erosion from the spring runoff.
Okanagan Lake boaters are also advised to be on the look-out for floating debris carried into the lake from rising and faster flowing tributaries.
In the event of an emergency and activation of the Central Okanagan Emergency Operation Centre, the latest information will be available online at the new EOC public information website, www.cordemergency.ca.