Marilyn Strong was taking part in an effort to save her neighbours’ homes from the rising waters of Mill Creek Saturday when she found herself in need of a hand.
“All of a sudden the creek got diverted and water ended up going down the lane behind Burne and Cadder,” said Strong, whose home is on Burne Avenue.
“It just kept coming. I was out in front of the house filling sandbags, as we had been doing for a day and a half, and I could see the water coming toward our place, in the backyard.”
In no time at all the water had created a nearly knee-deep pool in her backyard and it was seeping into her basement. When all was said and done, her basement was submerged in 16-inches of water.
“There was no way to predict that,” Strong said Monday, adding that she has lived in her current address since 2005 and nothing of the kind has happened in the past.
Despite the fact she’s currently wading through water-logged remnants in her storage space, a potentially damaged furnace that has had the gas turned off to it, she still believes she’s lucky.
“I feel so bad for some people — their properties were really damaged,” she said, adding that many won’t have been insured for what’s been lost.
The silver lining to all that’s gone wrong, however, has been the community’s willingness to step in and help in anyway it can.
“It was impressive,” she said. “Besides the fact neighbours were out filling sandbags, people were just coming through to help and we’d ask ‘where do you live on the street?’ and they would say ‘we don’t.’”
One case that stood out to Strong was of a family that pitched in just because they had heard about what was going on from their school age child.
The man worked at Anodyne Electronics Manufacturing Corporation and he and his wife were shovelling and filling sandbags for the better part of the afternoon and evening.
She’s also been impressed by the Christian Aid Ministries team.
They arrived in Kelowna from Lethbridge Monday, and over the next few days a team will be pitching in to help victims of the flood recover and, if need be, those threatened brace themselves for the second wave of flooding.
“We found out about the situation online,” said Arnie Brubacher, with the Christian Aid team.
“We have guys that watch for floods and disasters, like that. So we flew out here (Monday) morning to assess the damage and see what work we can do.”
So far, said Brubacher, they’ve found places that need flooring removed. In other homes furniture and storage will have to be taken to the dump.
“We’re not sure if any of the stuff is saveable yet, we haven’t gotten into the work of it yet,” he said.
All the work that will be done is of no cost to homeowners and most of those who will be doing the work are volunteers.
“We should have guys here this week and next week, if there’s a need for more,” he said. “We should have guys here tomorrow working on Burne Avenue, but if there’s need to sandbag more, we do that as well.”
Related: Flooding concerns resume
That need may arise. Temperatures are expected to rise to 27 C by Wednesday, which will increase stream flows again.
Environment Canada meteorologist Doug Lundquist said the government agency is forecasting highs in the 26 C range and then Thursday and Friday they are calling for another 15-25 millimetres of rain.
That combined with run-off from higher elevation, yet-melted snowpacks may be cause for concern.
“Where it did flood prior there may be less pressure, but there may be new watersheds under pressure when the next system runs through,” Lundquist said.
Emergency response crews are also preparing for the worst.
The short-term forecast is calling for significant rain starting late Thursday and the Central Okanagan Regional District Emergency response team has recomended that area residents keep in place all protective measures.
“Citizens who live in low lying areas near creeks and lakes that may be susceptible to flooding should also take preventative measures to protect their properties.
Sandbags are available at City of Kelowna Fire Station No. 1 at 2255 Enterprise Way. Sand and sandbags are available at Swalwell Park in Lake Country. Sand is available outside the Hotel Eldorado on Cook Road in Kelowna and on Commonwealth Road by Holiday Park in Lake Country. Please check cordemergency.ca for updates on sand locations throughout the day.
All Evacuation Orders and Alerts remain in place. Please go to cordemergency.ca for specific addresses.
Residents on Evacuation Order should report and register at the Emergency Support Services Reception Centre located in the Salvation Army Church, 1480 Sutherland Avenue (corner of Burtch Road and Sutherland Avenue), which will reopen this morning at 11 a.m.
Residents and property owners that are no longer under Evacuation Order and now able to access their property need to be aware that properties may not be habitable or have full services, such as electrical and/or natural gas. Residents who have registered with Emergency Support Services can continue to use any unused vouchers.
Residents with property managers should see them to obtain information on the safety and status of their property.
Disaster Financial Assistance
The BC Government announced that Disaster Financial Assistance is available to Central Okanagan residents affected by the recent flooding. Applications must be submitted by August 5 to Emergency Management BC and are available online at www.gov.bc.ca/disasterfinancialassistance.