Flood Watch: Okanagan Lake levels rise, safety measures applied

Okanagan Lake is getting deeper

Okanagan Lake levels rose by 2.5 cm since Monday afternoon, putting low lying areas at risk of floods.

“Based on a survey of waterfront properties on Okanagan Lake, bladder dams, gabion barriers and sandbags will begin to be installed at a number of locations along the foreshore,” reads the latest release from CORD Emergency.

“The survey confirmed the location of the most vulnerable areas prone to flooding from rising lake levels.”

Residents in Kelowna neighbourhoods between William R. Bennett Bridge and Kelowna General Hospital area might see work crews installing flood protection measures on the beach along the lakeshore starting today.

Work in West Kelowna is also ongoing at Pritchard Park and Pebble Park today.

Protecting infrastructure and areas most at risk of flooding

Primary considerations for the placement of flood protection barriers include protecting public infrastructure and foreshore areas where flood protection can protect many upland properties. Protection for of specific areas was also determined by their risk of flooding and how easily and efficiently the barriers can be put in place, giving crews time to complete more shoreline.

For example, adding barriers in front of about 15 homes between Royal Avenue and Atwood Place will protect the Kelowna General Hospital campus. And placing barriers in front of 20 lakeshore properties between the bridge and Burne Avenue will protect another 60 properties behind them. Crews can easily reach these areas through public beach accesses.

Residents might see crews placing wooden stakes along waterfront properties to show where the survey determined the lake level could reach when it hits the 343.6-metre level. That point above sea level represents the elevation of the flood projections including a buffer for wave action. Residents are asked not to move or remove the stakes or any other flood protection measures.

Some of flood protection barriers have already been deployed in West Kelowna and along Bellevue Creek in Kelowna.

Barriers in other areas at risk of flooding will be installed on a priority basis in the following days, making the most efficient use of work crews to get to as many areas as possible before the lake rises forecasted levels.

Debris washed up on beaches should be left there for the time being. The logs and other wood material will help limit erosion caused by wave action. When the flood risk has passed, officials will provide notification of how the beach debris will be removed.

Many still evacuated, stay prepared

Approximately 400 people remain evacuated. Emergency officials are constantly assessing possible changes in the status of remaining evacuation orders and alerts based on a variety of conditions including weather and the impact it has on lake water levels which are continuing to rise and levels and flows of area creeks. Any change to Evacuation Orders will be made only when it is safe to allow residents to return to their homes.

The Emergency Support Services reception centre at the Salvation Army at Sutherland Avenue and Burtch Road in Kelowna will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday, May 16 to assist those who remain on evacuation order and those who require extended assistance. Evacuation Orders and Alerts are up-to-date at www.cordemergency.ca/map.

The Province of British Columbia’s Emergency Management website offers helpful information on protecting your property from, and recognizing the danger signs of landslides. Visit: http://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/safety/emergency-preparedness-response-recovery/preparedbc/know-the-risks/landslides.

With water levels at record highs and snow remaining in the high elevation watersheds, the potential for flooding due to rain, wind or warm temperatures is still a risk. These conditions for area lakes and creeks are expected to last well into June.

All residents, including those no longer on order or alert, are reminded to keep sandbags in place until the flood watch event has fully ended. Residents with lakefront properties and next to beach edges should not remove the debris along their property, as it can act as a barricade against rising waters and minimize erosion.

Boaters be slow

Boaters are reminded that lake levels are high and they should watch for floating debris as a significant amount has been flowing down streams and into area lakes. Boaters should also keep their distance from shorelines and if possible keep speeds down as additional wave action could cause disturbance to banks and beaches.

Stay up-to-date

To view the most up to date information and locations of sand and sandbags, go to www.cordemergency.ca to check out the latest updates and maps.

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