Water is expected to force the closure of Highway 3 in several spots when the Similkameen River rises again laster this week. (File photo)

b.c. flood

May long affecting Okanagan-Similkameen flood preparations

Hotels fill up as RDOS seeks emergency lodging; residents with medical needs should self-evacuate now

The May long weekend is tossing a bit of a wrench in emergency operations in the South Okanagan-Similkameen, where officials are expecting major flooding later this week.

Flooding in the Similkameen and on Osoyoos Lake “will happen,” according to Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen chair Karla Kozakevich. The question of “how much” remains to be seen, however, and Kozakevich said individuals with medical needs should be self-evacuating immediately.

“We know we’re going to have flooding with Osoyoos Lake and Similkameen River. That will happen; we just don’t know the extent of it,” said Karla Kozakevich, Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen chair.

“The over-2,000 homes on evac alert now through our region, we will be moving some of those homes to an order. We just don’t know the numbers right now that will move to an order. … A lot of it right now is preparing for the worst.”

Related: Temperatures soar to record-breaking heights in Kelowna, Vernon

The water in Osoyoos Lake has receded a little less than a foot in the past two days, but officials expect the lake to rise significantly in the coming week, as unseasonably hot weather melts much of the snow in higher elevations.
Image: U.S. Geological Survey/Screengrab
The water in Osoyoos Lake has receded a little less than a foot in the past two days, but officials expect the lake to rise significantly in the coming week, as unseasonably hot weather melts much of the snow in higher elevations.

Image: U.S. Geological Survey/Screengrab

Provincial officials warned last Friday of more water woes with unseasonably hot weather expected to stick until the middle of the week. That will likely cause significant melting in higher-elevation areas in mountain ranges, where the majority of the snow has yet to melt.

Officials expect the flooding to be strongest around Thursday and Friday, making some unfortunate timing. The Victoria Day long weekend is coming up, and that is typically the kickoff to tourism season in the region.

“With a long weekend, a lot of the hotels are booked, and there will be a shortage of accommodations, so we’re working on branching out even wider to find accommodations,” Kozakevich said.

Related: Evacuation alerts expanded in Similkameen

So far, Kozakevich said about 200 people have required emergency accommodations, but many of the homes evacuated in the region are summer homes and have been unoccupied.

Anyone looking to offer up accommodations — or volunteer in anyway, including sandbagging — should call the RDOS emergency operations centre line at 250-490-4225.

That number should also be contacted immediately by individuals, or family and friends thereof, who have medical needs.

Related: Okanagan-Shuswap flood watch to intensify over next week

“We need to get them moving out of their homes potentially now in the Similkameen or Osoyoos area. Those may be people that need dialysis, use oxygen tanks,” Kozakevich said.

People who are hesitant to leave their homes because of their pets should call the EOC line, and the RDOS will attempt to find accommodations for those pets and livestock, Kozakevich said.

A Monday RDOS news release noted only those with health and mobility issues within the evacuation alert areas will be eligible for food and lodging assistance at this time.

Related: Prepare now for Highway 3 to close when river rises

“The Similkameen River, I think it’s expected to go up to 800 or maybe even 900 cubic metres per second,” said Keremeos Mayor Manfred Bauer. “I would say 350 cubic metres we started out. We went up to about 700 (last week). There is cooler weather to be expected by about Thursday, Friday, so this could have a large impact on how fast is this coming down.”

Officials still aren’t certain how much of an impact that could have on flooding in the region. After floods caused the closure of Highway 3 for days last week, Bauer said some measures were put in place in that area, including gabion walls.

But an RDOS release noted Highway 3 “will likely be closed in multiple locations” as flooding ramps up this week.

“Closure of Highway 3 will potentially strand residents, and people with health issues, pets or livestock need to prepare to self-evacuate,” the RDOS release said. “Nickel Plate Road, from Hedley to Apex Mountain, is washed out and currently impassible.”

Report a typo or send us your tips, photos and video.

Dustin Godfrey | Reporter

@dustinrgodfrey

Send Dustin an email.
Like the Western News on Facebook.
Follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Kelowna RCMP release images of commercial break-in from October

The items stolen were valued at around $50,000

Kelowna couple spearheads Mango and Moose International to build thriving communities

Kelowna couple help build schools, water wells, and economic stability in developing countries.

UPDATE: Have you seen Cassy Miller?

Friends and family are looking for information about the Kelowna woman

Kelowna’s definitive Christmas market list

We’ve prepared a list of every market in the Central Okanagan

One Okanagan council is starting to consider their effect on the environment

Councillor at large Penny Gambell is turning her attention to the impact… Continue reading

VIDEO: Amazon to split second HQ between New York, Virginia

Official decision expected later Tuesday to end competition between North American cities to win bid and its promise of 50,000 jobs

Canada Post no longer guarantees delivery times amid more rotating strikes

The Canadian Union of Postal Workers closed two major processing centres in Ontario and B.C.

B.C. city councillor resigns as AutismBC director amid SOGI controversy

AutismBC president Gary Robins says Laurie Guerra’s resignation is effective Nov. 12

McGill students vote overwhelmingly to change Redmen team nickname

Student union held a referendum after a campaign by Indigenous students

B.C. university Pride group replaces white supremacy posters

Around 50 people walked through downtown Victoria to share posters of love

B.C. to invest $492 million in affordable homes

72 new projects are part of a 10-year, $1.9-billion strategy

Vernon Magnums primed for provincials

Another big win on Sunday, 19-12 against Kelowna, for league champs

Around the BCHL: Surrey Eagles sliding and Cassidy Bowes flows

Around the BCHL is a look at what’s happening in the league and around the junior A world.

Pit bull cross, chihuahua owners must split costs for dogfight damage, judge rules

Eac side responsible for $577.43 towards injuries in Comox Valley incident

Most Read