Be alert for safety hazards

Officials are urging the public to be alert to health and safety hazards caused by high water levels

As the flooding emergency in the Central Okanagan approaches the one-month mark, officials are urging the public to be alert to a variety of health and safety hazards caused by high water levels.

Wind gusts up to 25 kilometres an hour this afternoon and evening, combined with unprecedented lake levels, will test fortifications in low-lying areas of the Central Okanagan.

Okanagan Lake is 16 centimetres higher than it was during the last wind event on May 24, so protective measures need to be adjusted accordingly.

Residents and visitors are also asked during this state of emergency to stay out of flooded neighbourhoods so that residents and emergency crews can properly do their work. Impacted properties are for local traffic only.

Residents in flooded properties with electrical service still in operation should be alert to the danger and exercise extreme caution.

Parents are also asked to keep children out of dirty shallow water to prevent any health risks posed by standing water.

Emergency officials are asking residents and visitors to find wake-free options to enjoy Okanagan Lake in the weeks ahead. A lot of time and energy has gone into sandbagging vulnerable areas, and respectful operation of watercraft is urged so that boat wakes do not damage protection or cause flooding of lakeshore properties.

Boaters also need to be cautious about wood debris floating under the surface of the lake, along with submerged infrastructure.

People are also asked to stay off the bladder dams, gabion cages and sandbags deployed along beaches and creeks.

Environment Canada reported Okanagan Lake reached 343.11 metres at 7 a.m. on May 30 – a two-centimetre rise since May 29 at 7 a.m. when the lake level was reported as 343.08 m.

The flow of Mission Creek is expected to increase over the next few days with the recent hot weather and rain in the forecast. The creek was flowing at 65 cubic-metres-a-second last night and is expected to stay at that rate for the next day or two.

Crews have bolstered protection measures between Lakeshore Bridge and the mouth of Okanagan Lake. Residents living along Mission Creek, especially those closer to the lake, are urged to reinforce the flood protection around their properties, due to increasing lake levels and potential for back water effect.

All evacuation alerts and orders remain in effect. Check out the map and search by address to determine if an area is under alert or order, or to find the closest sand and sandbag locations.

The most up to date lake levels can be found on the Government of Canada’s website. The increase of lake levels being reported out by various agencies will depend on what time period is being used to report out on.

Residents are reminded that this is a weather driven event and things will continue to evolve with the weather. A sudden change in weather could increase the risk of flooding.