John Barber says if his home is put on an evacuation order, he won’t be leaving.
“If they cut our power, or make us leave, they are taking away our right to protect our homes,” says the Lakeshore Road resident. “They told us we might have to leave for our safety, but give me a break we aren’t going to wash away it won’t even come up to my back door.”
Okanagan Lake is currently about 25 metres from Barber’s home, and he has used more than 1,500 sandbags to protect his property from the flood waters.
Residents near Kin Beach seem to be frustrated with the city’s slow response to the issue, according to Barber.
“We’ve been asking for months what are you going to do if it floods, and they basically said it’s our job to protect our property.”
At the end of May, the City of Vernon told residents that Vernon Creek water would be released out of Kalamalka Lake and those living along Vernon Creek should be taking precautions to protect their property.
A release from city staff states that it is the property owner’s responsibility to take the appropriate measures to protect their property.
Living in the same location for the last 30 years, Barber says he has never seen the water so high.
“I went through the flood in the 1990s, and they said that was a big one,” he explains. “But, the water never even came up to the house.”
With the water continuing to rise and more rain on the way, Barber is also concerned for the properties beside him.
“They are owned by the city, and they never bothered to sandbag them and now they are flooding and I guess the city is panicking,” he says, pointing to an older cabin with lake water to its front door.
The City of Vernon is continuing to monitor Okanagan Lake levels, which are still expected to increase.
More than 100,000 sandbags have been provided to residents over the past few weeks and the city continues to replenish the sandbagging sites on a continual basis. Tiger Dams have also been installed along Lakeshore Road and approximately 30 centimetres of berm material on Cummins Road. Residents on both side of Lakeshore (from 2548 to 2688) and 6999 Cummins remained on evacuation alert as of press time Thursday. Lake accesses off Lakeshore Road are closed but Kin Beach, or what’s left of it, remains open to the public.
As for Barber, he and a few friends will be sandbagging until waters recede and he can repair his flooded backyard.