As Sally Howard drove down Clement Avenue on her way to the Yacht Club late Sunday night, wind whipped water from the Dolphins fountain and blew it across the public promenade onto her car window.
“That’s the point point I knew we were in big trouble,” said Howard, the club’s general manager late Monday morning.
When she arrived at the marina her suspicions were confirmed. Winds, which were pegged at 97 km/hour on the waterfront, had already “obliterated” a sailing education tent and they continued to bash boats into the docks, while setting others adrift.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Howard said, noting she’s been with the club for two-and-a-half years.
Even the long-time members say they haven’t the likes of Monday’s storm since 1998. And back then, the damage wasn’t as significant because there were far fewer moorage spaces than the 1,006 that currently exist. .
Regardless of the violence of the storm, Howard and the “small army” of yacht club volunteers evacuated boaters, walking on docks that some estimates indicate were being bounced by waves up four to five feet in the air.
Most everyone came out OK. Others suffered injuries.
“There were people who had pinched fingers, and that kind of thing,” she said. “One member, when he went to get off his boat to safety, fell in the water. He was able to get immediate assistance and was watched through the night. He’s doing OK now.”
Once the docks were evacuated those on hand, and the winds subsided, volunteers working in pairs took to lassoing boats that had drifted away. Most were saved and put into a spot deemed safe for the time being.
It’s believed two are probably at the bottom of the lake, but many more are damaged.
“There are 150 to 250 boats that are significantly damaged and will need some repair,” said Howard.
The docks also suffered damage worth well over of $100,000.
Being fixed during the press conference, was the Westside Breakwater, which had broken free in the tumult. It will likely be upgraded in the days ahead, as the damage is assessed.
Members have been advised to head to the yacht club and uncover any damages that their boats may have been incurred. From there a meeting with an insurance adjuster may be required. Members have also been advised to take additional safety precautions while visiting the basin.
The Kelowna Yacht Club will be working with members and other affected parties on an ongoing basis until all issues have been resolved.
The wind damage extended beyond the yacht club, although that was the most dramatic.
Trees were knocked down and there were numerous reports to the City of Kelowna about incidents of damage and debris. “City staff is out fixing up the damage,” said Mayor Colin Basran.”Please be patient, it’s city wide.”
Basran pointed out that if there are any branches or trees laying about, and they look unsafe, go to the City of Kelowna website and enter the information into the service request system.